The Angel Food Ministry is a non-profit, non-denominational organization dedicated to providing food relief to communities throughout the United States.
The program began in 1994 with 34 families in Monroe, Ga. Pastors Joe and Linda Wingo found their hearts going out to many of the local families affected by a recent industrial plant closing. The first Angel Food distribution was made from the back porch of the Wingo home.
The ministry has grown to serve hundreds of thousands of families every month across 35 states.
Ted and Susan Norris are chairman and co-chairman for the ministry in Monett. The distribution site is located at the First Presbyterian Church at 700 Sycamore in Monett.
The program began locally in October of 2006 with Pastor Walt Hamer leading the program. The first month was a pilot program for church members only. The following month, it was opened to the public.
"One of the most important points that we really need to get across to everyone," said Norris, "is there are no financial requirements. Anyone can purchase the boxes and specials. We still have people that come in thinking there are income requirements."
There are no qualifications, minimums, income restrictions or applications. Everyone is encouraged to participate. Some churches encourage participants to apply the money they saved to help someone else in need.
"Distribution has decreased 40 percent since last year," said Norris. "We really can't explain it, except I think people might misunderstand the ministry and might think it is income based. It is for everybody."
The food is high quality food that could be purchased at a grocery store. There are no second-hand items, no damaged or out dated goods, no dented cans without labels, no day-old breads and no produce that is almost too ripe.
Angel Food is available in a quantity that can fit into a medium-sized box at $30 per unit. Each month's menu is different than the previous month and consists of both fresh and frozen items with an average retail value of approximately $60.
"A couple of years ago a lady went to the store and priced the items on the list," said Norris. "She stated that the same items would have cost $72 at the store."
Generally, one unit of food assists in feeding a family of four for about one week or a single senior citizen for almost a month. Also offered are specialty boxes containing steaks, chicken and pork. Many participants in this bonus program appreciate the expanded choices. There is no limit to the number of units or bonus foods an individual can receive.
To better help families in need, Angel Food Ministries participates in the Food Stamp program. This program is designed to help low-income families buy the food they need for good nutrition.
The proceeds go strictly to pay for the food.
"We get a $1 rebate per box, and that money is used to buy an extra box to donate to Crosslines or to somebody that needs it," said Norris.
"I have a great group of volunteers that help every month," Norris stated. "Probably one of the things that I enjoy about this ministry is the fellowship with people and the new friends you make."
The Pierce City distribution center began approximately a year ago at the First Congregational United Church of Christ with John Archer as chairman.
The First Presbyterian Church of Aurora is the host site with approximately 18 churches picking up their food at that location.
Every month there are three scheduled days to sell that are announced on the individual menus and in the newspaper. There is one pick-up date. The ministry accepts cash, money orders and food stamps and payment has to be made when the order is placed.
"This is a great program," said Norris, "and I hope people realize that it is for everyone and utilizes it. Everyone needs help at one time or another, and the Angel Food Ministry is a good way to help stretch your money that you allow for food purchases."
For more information on the program call 235-3129 or 235-6169.