Angel Food Ministries helps area families
Published: January 30, 2007 | 5424th good news item since 2003
Are you looking for ways to stretch your grocery budget without clipping coupons or running around town to compare prices? Consider taking advantage of Angel Food Ministries, a money-saving program that provides a convenient way to manage both your grocery list and your budget.
A nonprofit, nondenominational organization, Angel Food Ministries got its start in 1994 with 34 families in Monroe, Ga. Since then, it has expanded to serve thousands of families across the United States. The Myrtle Beach area program is run out of the Freedom Center, just off S.C. 544 near the Surfside Beach area Wal-Mart.
Angie Ashurst, director of the Freedom Center, said the program aims at filling in the gaps for those people who may bring in too much money to qualify for government assistance but who aren’t making enough to support themselves and their families. “We want to assist those people that are not being served by the community.”
Ashurst said the program is ideal for single parents, the working poor and senior citizens on a fixed income. Although these groups definitely benefit, the program is open to everyone – there are no applications or eligibility requirements.
The Myrtle Beach area food distribution program began in November and has been averaging about 170 families a month. Ashurst said the goal is to build that number up to 300 families each month. Without enough participants, she said, it won’t be cost-effective to keep the program in Horry County.
Ashurst said she’s been trying to spread the word through local media, including spots on local TV and radio public service announcements. Although it has been somewhat of a challenge getting the word out, word of mouth has played a large role in bringing in more participants. Additional obstacles in getting people to take advantage of the program, said Ashurst, are people’s skepticism about charities, the belief that there must be a “catch” and, for some people, pride.
For Candice Cook, a single mother of three kids, ages 13, 8 and 7, the program has been a lifesaver. Cook, who home-schools her children, attends school herself and works temporary jobs, said the program definitely has made her money go further. A Conway resident, she found out about the program through her home-schooling group.
“I use it because it makes sense for the budget,” she said. “It helps things stretch definitely. It’s a good deal.” Cook said the generous portions in each unit have even allowed her to share extra food with others.
The way the program works is simple. Each month, participants have the opportunity to buy a $25 “unit” of groceries on a specified day. Exactly what that basic unit will include varies from month to month, but buyers will know in advance what they are purchasing. The food includes a variety of both frozen and fresh items, and usually has a retail value of about $70. Along with each order comes a publication titled “The Servant,” which includes religious and inspirational messages and the menu for the next month.
There are no restrictions on the number of basic units that can be purchased by an individual or group each month. According to Angel Food Ministries, one unit of food should feed a family of four for one week or a single senior citizen for one month.