However, as much as I tried to do, it just didn’t seem to make a financial impact on our budget. In September 2008, I learned about Angel Food Ministries (AFM) from my plant manager, who had learned about the ministry from his mom. Neither of us knew anything about AFM, but we were concerned about our employees and their possible financial hardships, especially since we had just announced a layoff. I started researching AFM and visited their website, http://www.angelfoodministries.com/. What I read touched my heart and amazed me. Not only would my employees benefit from AFM, but so would my family!
Angel Food Ministries is a non-profit, non-denominational organization dedicated to providing financial support in the form of food relief to communities throughout the United States. Established in 1994 to provide relief for struggling families in the Monroe, GA area, Angel Food Ministries today serves hundreds of thousands of families across now 40 states, having added Arizona in March 2009. Since inception, Angel Food Ministries has fed more than 20 million Americans. In 2008, AFM provided $140 million in direct food assistance to American families.
Angel Food offers a medium-sized box of food for $30 that contains top quality food staples from every food group, including chicken or beef, milk, eggs, vegetables, and other nutritious items. One box of food feeds a family of four for about one week, or a single senior citizen for almost a month. The menu varies each month, and consists of both fresh and frozen items with an average retail value of approximately $60.
In addition to the $30 regular box, you can purchase boxes that are allergen-free, seafood only, and for seniors (10 single-serving meals that can be heated in the microwave). They also have meat and fruit/vegetable specials that you can order in addition to a regular, senior, allergen-free, or seafood box.
How it Works:
On pick-up day, drive out to your host location and pick up your order. At my host church, there are signs pointing the way to the pick-up location behind the church. I just drive around and the volunteers load the boxes right into my vehicle—very nice since my kids like to tag along and I don’t have to get out of the car!
I started off ordering just one regular and one fruit/veggie box each month. Unfortunately, my husband ran out of work at the end of 2008 after his contracts were fulfilled. That meant zero income from him, and we were forced to live off of my income alone. So we increased our order to two regular boxes and a fruit/veggie box beginning with the February 2009 order.
Our fruit/veggie box came with a fresh pineapple, apples, cabbage, oranges, carrots, sweet potatoes, Idaho potatoes, two pears, onions, and a box of raisins. Everything was fresh and delicious!
So for March, we did the same thing. We ordered two regular boxes and one fruit/veggie box. The regular box menu (two packages/boxes of each): dozen eggs, shelf-stable 2% milk, canned tomato soup, canned spaghetti sauce, boxes of cookies (great for an occasional snack for my son’s preschool), shoestring french fries, meatballs, beef sirloin steaks, split chicken breasts, chicken fried steaks (my husband LOVED these), green beans, diced carrots, dried pinto beans, spaghetti noodles, deli-sliced ham, ground beef, and mild Italian sausage links. The fruit/veggie box menu: sweet potatoes, cabbage, oranges, onions, Idaho potatoes, cantaloupe, pink lady apples, 4 granny smith apples, 1 mango, 2 bulbs garlic, 4 tangerines, and carrots.
Our March order seemed like SO much! We really felt blessed. After coming home with the order, I did some once a month cooking that afternoon. Well, it was more like 1-1/2 weeks worth of cooking (I didn't have all the ingredients to complete more than that). Nevertheless, it was great having some freezer meals on hand ready to pop into the oven when I came home from work.
The blessings of buying some of our food from Angel Food Ministries have been enormous. I am able to meet the needs of my family by placing a variety of food on our table. Yes, the brands are often generic, but that doesn’t bother us because I have always bought generic. It may not be 5-star quality on Wolfgang Puck’s menu, but the food is nutritious and my family has enjoyed the variety. We have also saved money purchasing some of our food from AFM, and that has allowed me to invest more in stockpiling our food storage, 72-hour kits, paper products, and cleaning supplies. I’ve been able to teach a little bit about service to my children, not only giving service but of receiving service, something that is often hard to accept. And believe it or not, our AFM orders have actually stretched out longer than one or two weeks (depending on our order). Perhaps it's because our children are still young and I can divide some of the food into more than one meal...perhaps it's divine intervention from Heavenly Father. Either way, I feel truly grateful for every little blessing that has helped sustain my family.
Plus, the kids really dig the boxes the orders come in!
What ways have you come up with saving money on your grocery bill? Do you buy from Angel Food Ministries or a similar service? Please share your ideas!
Be on the lookout for Part II regarding our April 2009 Angel Food Ministries order. I'll show you how I used the food for my once a month cooking!