Hundreds of financially strapped South Floridians are putting food on the table with a little help from an Angel.
Angel Food Ministries is a national, faith-based, non-profit organization, provides food relief to people of all income levels through host sites around the country. Each Angel Food Ministries box, dubbed “blessings in a box,” consists of brand-name foods at a cost of $30–half of what consumers would pay at a grocery store.
“First of all, for the consumer, I want them to know that there are people that genuinely care about helping them through a difficult time,” said Pastor Joe Wingo, founder and CEO of Angel Food Ministries. Wingo and his wife, Linda, distributed the first “blessings in a box” from their back porch in Monroe, Georgia, more than 16 years ago. The closing of industrial plants in Monroe devastated the local economy. Families were facing heavy financial burdens, which prompted the Wingos to help provide food to 34 families. “I had no idea then what this Life would be doing today. My focus was on feeding those first 34 families,” Wingo said.
From that back porch show of compassion, Angel Food Ministries was born and has now grown into a national food distribution Life with 6200 host sites in 44 states.
Wingo modeled Angel Food Ministries after the story of Joseph in Genesis, “after a tough beginning, Joseph was positioned to be able to feed the nation during the seven years of famine,” he said, adding that when we serve one another, we serve God. “Volunteers and host sites are reaching the lost and hurting through the Good News of Jesus Christ,” said Wingo.
One such host site reaching out to South Florida residents is Victory Christian Center in Boca Raton. Host director Jim Derks started Angel Food Ministries at Victory Christian Center more than three years ago, along with his wife Helene Derks. “We started this as an outreach. We wanted to help those in need. We wanted to help our brothers and sisters,” Derks said. Their mission, first and foremost, is to help people satisfy a practical need before ministering to their spiritual needs. “Usually people that pick up these boxes are facing many hardships. We try to create a comfort zone, a safe zone, where we pray with them, listen to them, and invite them to church. Some people come just for that hug once a month,” Derks said. Victory distributes 150-200 boxes a month.
Victory’s community outreach has inspired other local organizations to get involved. To many Boca Raton senior residents, Angel Food Ministries meals have been a godsend. “I’ve heard people say this has saved their lives,” said Linda Rosa, vice president of the Mae Volen Senior Center. For the past year, the senior center has received donations to purchase 100 Angel Food boxes from an anonymous donor. Boxes contain Angel Food Ministries’s Fast and Flavorful meals that are fully cooked and specially made for seniors and diabetics. The task of pick-up and delivery of the meals is then undertaken by local civic organizations.
“With the help of the [Boca Raton] rotary clubs, these seniors have food for up to a month. We’ve been able to do some really good work. It’s tough, but well worth it,” Rosa said.
For host sites, the benefits of partnering with Angel Food Ministries are three-fold.
“It’s an opportunity to reach out to others, bring new people into the church, and raise money because one dollar from the sale of each box goes to the [host site],” said Juda Engelmayer, director of communications for Angel Food Ministries.
How it works
Angel Food Ministries carefully inspects and selects food purchased from major food wholesalers. A menu committee then tests for food quality, taste, and freshness before integrating ingredients in any one of Angel Food Ministries’s four menus. A Signature box consists of fresh and frozen foods from all the major food groups. The Fast and Flavorful boxes are compromised of fully cooked meals made for seniors, diabetics, or people on the go. Specialty boxes can be either all meat (including fish and poultry) or ethnic foods. Menus change each month. “The food is well-balanced, nutritional, economical, and tasty. We are providing food valued at $45-65, for only $30,” Engelmayer said.
Orders are placed online or through host sites. All forms of payment are accepted, including food stamps. Angel Food Ministries boxes serve as an evangelical means to a spiritual end. Engelmayer summed it up like this, “Angel Food’s mission is to feed Americans and bring faith to the people through a box of food.”
To become a host site or find host sites in your area, visit www.angelfoodministries.com and become an angel today.