Thoughts on Angel Food Ministries

Over the last few weeks, quite a few readers have written to me asking about Angel Food Ministries. I’ve been very hesitant to discuss Angel Food Ministries on The Simple Dollar for a handful of reasons, but this is clearly a topic that many readers are interested in hearing about, so I’ll do my best to navigate this minefield (meaning, I’m pretty sure I’m going to say something that’s going to set someone off, though I’m not intending to). I should also point out that I have a bit of experience in the past with Angel Food Ministries on the ground – I’m personally aware of the type of items that they distribute.

What Is Angel Food Ministries?

Angel Food Ministries is a non-profit group that distributes low-cost food options in many communities (a typical basic box from Angel Food Ministries costs $30 and has approximately $55 worth of groceries in the box).

Most of the funding and organizational structure of Angel Food Ministries is handled through evangelical Christian churches in the United States. Many churches serve as distribution centers in local communities, and each box contains a leaflet that outlines some of the teachings of Jesus Christ.

What’s in the Box?

The May 2009 menu provides a clear example of what a box from Angel Food Ministries will provide:

.5 lb. Lean Chopped Beef Steaks (5 x 8 oz.)
5 lb. Leg Quarters
2 lb. Chicken and Corn Bread Stuffing Casserole (Ready to Cook)
28 oz. Salisbury Steak Dinner Entrée
1 lb. Boneless Pork Chops (4 x 4 oz.)
1 lb. Corn Dogs (6 ct.)
12 oz. Deli Sliced Ham
5 oz. Chunk Light Tuna in Water
32 oz. French Fries
1 lb. Sweet Corn
15 oz. Musselman’s Apple Sauce
15 oz. Pears (Product of U.S.A.)
8 oz. Dinner Roll Mix (Makes 8 Nice Rolls)
7.5 oz. Mac ’n Cheese
32 oz. 2% Shelf Stable Milk
Dozen Eggs
Dessert

This box is available for $30.

At first glance, this is a pretty good deal, and if your primary concern is getting food on the table at a very low price, this is likely a great option for you.

However, if you dig a little deeper, some of these options may not be the best value for your dollar. For example, I would be hesitant to feed several of the options on that list to my children on any sort of consistent basis, at least not without some careful inspection of the actual nutrition facts and ingredients of those items (the corn dogs, the “dessert” item which is often something like Twinkies or Moon Pies, etc.) Under that perspective, though, if I were to get the box, then throw out a third of the items, I might as well simply go to the grocery store at my own convenience and choose the exact items I want for my $30. Other writers have come to largely the same conclusion – it’s a value on the surface, but the quality of items may not be up to many personal standards.

Some would argue that I am somewhat looking a gift horse in the mouth here, and I agree that I am. From my perspective, this box is one option for spending $30 in food for my family. Depending on your financial situation and your food priorities, this can be a great bargain. It mostly depends on the type of value you’re seeking.

What Angel Food Ministries Does Right

One area where Angel Food Ministries hits a home run, in my opinion, is with some of their optional packages. You can choose an optional package as an addition to the basic package, as listed above. For example, one of their optional packages for May 2009 is the “Fresh Fruit and Veggie Package”:

1 head Premium Fresh California Iceberg Lettuce
1 head Premium Fresh California Romaine Lettuce
1 5 oz. Package Fresh Gourmet Classic Caesar Croutons
1 Package Wiley’s Citrus Garlic Salad Seasoning
1 lb. California Cello-Pack Carrots
2 each Premium Jumbo Vidalia Sweet Onions
1 each Premium Jumbo Red Onion
1 6 oz. Bag Premium Fresh Florida Red Radishes
1 head Premium Fresh Green Cabbage
3 lb. Premium Idaho Baking Potatoes
3 lb. Premium Tree-Ripened Valencia Oranges
3 lb. Premium Washington State Red Delicious Apples
1 each Premium Large Vine Ripened Honeydew Melon
AFM May 2009 Fruit and Veggie Recipe Sheet

For $22, that’s a very strong deal, especially if you want to get fresh produce on the table and you’re struggling to make ends meet.

Another strong advantage of Angel Food Ministries is that they often distribute in central community locations (like churches) that are quite accessible for many families that may not have access to transportation to get to the grocery store. Using a church as a distribution center means that the distribution often occurs in the middle of a residential area, making it easier for many people to access the food – particularly those who need it the most.

Is It Right To Use This Service?

In terms of using this service, my biggest question is whether it’s a justifiable option. Quite obviously, this service is trying to target lower-income families who can really use the savings provided by the options made available through the ministry.

The question is whether or not it’s ethical – or socially appropriate – for a person with a higher income level who is simply trying to maximize every cent to take advantage of this service.

On the one hand, the service makes it clear that it’s intended for everyone. There are no requirements at all for people to take part in receiving food from Angel Food Ministries, and they claim that there is plenty of food to go around.

On the other hand, if you’re in a situation where you have a reasonably large monthly food budget, why would you choose to use this service? If you are making it your goal to feed yourself and your family a well-rounded, high quality diet, many of the options in the basic box from Angel Food Ministries probably do not fit the bill, making it much less of a savings for you.

Thus, I think the question really comes down to your own personal food choices. If you are in a tight financial place and the goal is to get sanitary and diverse food options on the table at the lowest cost possible for your family, Angel Food Ministries is where you should go – and you’re exactly the type of person the service was designed for. On the other hand, if you have enough of a food budget that you can make detailed conscious choices about what goes on your table and what does not, you’re likely better off going to the grocery store and the farmer’s market – which, again, is appropriate.

In other words, Angel Food Ministries somewhat self-regulates – if this is a good deal for your life situation, they’re ready and willing to help. For me, though, I’ll stick with my own meal planning, which gives me much more control over what goes on my table (albeit at a higher price – a price I’m willing to pay).

Angel Food Ministries as a Charity

As you can see, in large part, I support the work that Angel Food Ministries does on the ground in getting low cost foods to people who really need them. In fact, I had considered donating to Angel Food Ministries in the past – and, as I’ve mentioned before, that means I sat down to research how the charity itself worked. What I found sent up a few pretty big red flags for me:

1.The charity is not listed with Charity Navigator

Charity Navigator is an impartial service that evaluates charities in terms of how they manage themselves internally and how much of their revenue actually goes towards charitable work. This is a basic step that many charities of any size take on – it’s the honest way to conduct a charity.

2. The charity is being investigated by the FBI

The reasons for the investigations are not being made clear by either the charity or the FBI

Here’s some details on the investigation.

3. MinistryWatch issues a “donor watch” for Angel Food Ministries

Ministry Watch, a watchdog group for Christian-affiliated charities, stating the following:

Angel Food Ministries is marketing to help individuals that are on the low economic side of the scale and in “need”; however, the leadership for the organization has higher salaries than the norm. In addition, the higher salaries consist of the leadership of individuals that are related. This is just for the known year of 2006, it is unknown of the more current years.

1. Wesley J. Wingo: $588,529
2. Linda Wingo: $544,043
3. Andrew Wingo: $529,014
4. Wesley Wingo: $454,673
5. L.M. Wingo: $384,694

Let alone the fact that these five people are related, the individual salaries are above and beyond what charities typically pay their employees, even large charities at the highest management levels.

Obviously, these discoveries are much more of interest to people who are considering donating to Angel Food Ministries. This should in no way prevent you from using Angel Food Ministries in your community.

My Final Take

On the ground, Angel Food Ministries provides a good service that many people really need – a lot of food at a very reasonable price at the expense of flexibility. For someone in a poor financial situation, Angel Food Ministries can really be a godsend.

However, as a broader charity, I would not donate to Angel Food Ministries when there are many highly ethical charities out there to contribute time and effort to. In many larger cities, there are local versions of Angel Food Ministries that you can donate to or be involved with – just ask around in your own community.

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  1. kat says:

    I remember reading about this charity. There are many things that send up flags about this one, and many churches were withdrawing their support. In Colorado, there is a similar program without the leaflets, where you can get the groceries for about 2/3 of the cost you would pay at the store, and two hours of volunteer work in your community. The distribution sites usually are churches, but the program is not a religious one.

  2. kim says:

    I once bought a box of food from Angel food plus several of the additional options. I was EXTREMELY disappointed. As Trent said, many items were of very poor nutritional content. About a third of my fresh produce was spoiled and/or moldy. The frozen dinner meals were…well just plain gross. The quality of the meats included was very poor. Two of the steak portions were almost 50% fat. I threw away the ground turkey as it was roughly 25% fat according to the label. Our dessert, was a cheap bag of stale cookies. I was so happy that I had enough funds to go to my local grocery store and replace the Angel Food items. The quality of the food was so poor that I really don’t think it is $55 worth of food. I had a hard time finding the food even worth the Angel Food prices. I do much better just shopping with coupons and sales at my local supermarket.

  3. Allison says:

    Just a comment as a professional fundraiser… Charity Navigator has stringent requirements on who they will even audit as an organization, including length of time an organization has been in operation so an organization not being on Charity Navigator isn’t necessarily an indication of their un-worthiness. That said, CN does a great job thinking through what the standards for different types of organizations should be and they are definitley a great source of information. For charities that aren’t in CN, it’s worth checking Guidestar for their 990 and looking over it yourself.

  4. fairydust says:

    Excellent all-around take on all aspects of Angel Food Ministries! I signed up with their email list when they began distributing in our area. What I’ve found is that I can probably get $30 worth of more specific foods that we’ll eat most months. However, about 1 out of every 3 or 4 months, we do buy a box because it has particularly attractive selections. I passed on May because of the corn dogs (among other things), but I’m getting a June box because it has a lot of non-breaded meats that we can use on the grill.

    I also enjoy their fruit boxes in the winter, although there are times when the veggies in the mixed produce boxes seemed very past their prime. So I think the service is a fantastic one that — as you say — works better for some folks than for others, and I’m always mentioning it to people who might be interested, posting flyers at work, blogging about it, because it does work really well for some people.

  5. Bryce says:

    I’ve not used these people, but I’ve seen plenty of publicity in the local paper and known some people who have used them. From what my friends say, you would be better off going to Aldi’s and taking a gamble there on the meats that draw so many people to Angel Food. And there you could buy the meats in the portions you need. There’s no way I would use the corndogs. And the pork chops? 4 x 4oz? That would feed 1 and 1/2 people in this house. And it’s my understanding you’re not getting a grill box of just meat or the veggie box unless you order the primary mix box and then pay for the add-ons. How do you think the managers of this charity can draw half a million dollar salaries? Pretty simple, they intercept meat that should head to the dog food plant or potted meat factory and sell it as value cuts.

  6. Dawn says:

    I purchased a box from Angel Food didn’t have any of the problems Kim mentions. The food was fresh and none was damaged or expired. However, I do agree with Trent though that the food was not of the best brands or highest nutritional value. The boxed items were of “off brands” – the kind of brands you might find at a Dollar Store, for example… which is fine, but I found that there were several items in the box I couldn’t use, that don’t fit my eating preferences. I donated back the fruit punch, for example, and asked them to pass it on to a large family. I decided that until I used every item from the box, I wouldn’t buy another – and I still have frozen chicken fajita meat in my freezer from October. I feel it is better value for me to purchase food I will actually use and enjoy.

  7. Lenetta says:

    Kansas and Nebraska have a similar program called Prairie Land Food (non-religous). They encourage any and all to participate because the more “paks” they sell, the better buying power they have.

    I found it to be pretty similar to Angel Food Ministries nutritionally, except it has a fresh fruit & veggie part in addition to the processed meat part – you get both. And you can buy additional meat specials. It works the same as kat noted in Colorado – you are to do a number of volunteer hours and pay the $20 something fee.

    It’s not a bad idea – I agree with Trent’s analysis. I just told myself I need to use up the three packages of frozen flounder before I jump back in!

  8. slcp84 says:

    This “charity” sounds like a hoax — I would be interested in seeing their accounting books. It seems that with the sort of “food” they are providing — processed, unhealthy, and according to kim(#2) maybe close to or even past the end of its shelf life — they would not have a hard time making a $55 retail price box for less than $30, and actually making money off of the food.

  9. Sarah says:

    My aunt swears by The Grocery Game. We’re just moving so I haven’t tried it yet but for $10 it’s worth it to me to see if we can get our 4 person food budget back under $450. The cost of formula alone for twins is just astronomical!

  10. Saya says:

    I have never understood this… The Church promotes it as a way that we can provide for the less fortunate (for every how many boxes we buy – we get a certain number to give to those less fortunate) but it seems to me it takes way too many people with money buying boxes to get any for those who really need it (and even then – shouldn’t we be giving the less fortunate decently healthy food?) Shouldn’t we be just having food pantry ministries and such if that is our goal?

  11. Wendy says:

    It makes me sad that the food most readily available to the poor are of such low nutritional quality. I once volunteered at the local food bank, and our job for the afternoon was repackaging giant bins of cookie crunch cereal into 10 oz packages for distribution. While I’m happy there are fewer kids actually feeling hunger pains, it is sad that this low quality of food makes it difficult for them to concentrate in school and has a huge negative impact on their ability to learn.

  12. RRPF says:

    i would be troubled by this list due to the appearance of 2 sets of names that are equivalent:

    1. Wesley J. Wingo: $588,529
    2. Linda Wingo: $544,043
    3. Andrew Wingo: $529,014
    4. Wesley Wingo: $454,673
    5. L.M. Wingo: $384,694

    #1 and #4 = same name with no JR, II, III or any other distinguishing difference.

    #2 and #5 sure make me wonder what Linda’s middle initial is.

    I think Trent is correct in having folks steer clear of donating to this charity.

  13. Jordan says:

    @RRPF Comment #6

    Good catch. I was already hesitant about the charity based on Trent’s comments but your observation just added a whole new level of sleaziness.

  14. Michelle says:

    I really have to wonder if they are actually making a profit on the $30 boxes–especially given the comments about the quality and off-brand products. If someone is broke, at least they can walk into a regular grocery store and buy some fresh Little Debbie cakes, you know?

    Anyway, I get really burned up when Christians are represented by people who appear to be pretty greedy…

    Great, informative post.

  15. tambo says:

    We got food packages through Share Iowa for a while when we had our nieces and were struggling to make ends meet. Their packages were $18 – plus the option to buy other add ons much like you listed for $5 – $10, usually. The food was kinda ‘meh’ at best and a lot we didn’t eat (like the sweets and grapefruit. They always included grapefruit. Yuk.) But to get the package we had to donate 2 hours a month of our time to help others, which was kind of fun, and they also had a HUGE pile of day old bread, especially some fantastic multi grain specialty stuff. So, we really stocked up on bread. lol

    The really funny part – for me – was watching the little old ladies scramble for the plain white bread and all of the cakes and things. Me, I was happy to root through to find artisian breads and whole grain rolls, and our kids loved the stead stream of fruit.

  16. I’ve seen a lot of discussion about Angel Food on the frugal boards, but I haven’t seen anyone there complaining of the freshness of the food. It’s good to know to watch out, though! Perhaps one should open the package at the delivery point and check it.

    This isn’t something I’ve used, due to the selection. But if I become too old or disabled to shop for/pay for/prepare the kind of food I eat now, this kind of program could be a lifesaver. So I keep it in the back of my mind…

  17. Jessica says:

    This post inspired me to look into a wholesale veggie box that my community offers. I’d heard about it from my ex, but wasn’t living in the area at the time. I called him up and we’re going to be splitting a large box next time they come around.

  18. Brian says:

    @ slcp84
    Another poster mentioned Guidestar.org. While you can’t actually look at their books, their 990 is at least a little window into their books – at guidestar, you can look at pretty much any non-profit’s 990.

  19. Laura says:

    Could not agree more with your assessment of this charity! My husband is currently unemployed so we tried them and it was AWFUL!! I’ve read about Angel Food Ministries on so many websites as a great way to save money. Frankly I can do much better on my own and feed my family MUCH healthier meals.

  20. Jenn says:

    My first thought towards this was- wow, so much meat! Seams like beans, tofu, etc would be a better deal and would last longer too.

    But I am vegetarian, so it is not like I would eat the meat anyways :)

    I think it COULD be a great idea for people, especially if the programs were run to incorporate more local food. It’s hard, many of the places where distribution would really help might not be near where the excess food comes from, plus you have the problem of storing the food before you get it to people AND assuming the people getting the food then have enough space to store the food.

  21. McKenna says:

    There are obviously some big issues with this charity that I hadn’t realized before. Thanks for the investigative work, Trent!

    However, I still believe that Angel Food Ministries serves a purpose in some communities. Yes, the food is not as high-quality as I would like. Yes, some families can afford to buy better food for similar prices. Yes, food pantries are still a good option.

    But there are some areas where food pantries are scare, non-existent, have empty shelves or are hard to get to. If you’re really struggling with money, you don’t have money to drive/bus/cab it to a food pantry. But you might be able to walk to your neighborhood church and pick up a box.

    There’s also the element of time and stress. Shopping can take a lot of time and even that small task can overwhelm someone who is really struggling in life. Picking up a box of food is much easier (and possibly cheaper) than buying it on your own.

    I think food options–grocery stores, fregan lifestyle, food pantries, AFM, etc.–are all beneficial to people who really, truly need help just to eat.

  22. Tabitha says:

    I really like this post. Mostly b/c I would like to contribute to charities but am hesitant for this reason (I realize they are not all like this). However, maybe I’m just dumb but I don’t know where to go to get this detailed info on a charity. Mostly I would prefer to donate to a person directly without the middle-man, not sure if there is any such charity that is just a liason for families? At any rate, if you did a monthly post on a charity just listing the basic info as you did here that would be awesome or just did one post on investigating charities.

    Thanks Trent.

  23. E.C. says:

    Tabitha,
    There’s a charity called Modest Needs that is designed to connect donors to recipients. You can read the requests and decide if there are any you want to help fund. Donors Choose is a similar site that connects donors to teachers to provide classroom supplies. (I was fortunate enough to have donors provide ACT prep books for my students this year.)

  24. Brittany says:

    I don’t live with my mother anymore, but she and my younger siblings have been using Angel Food for almost a year now, and they love it–it really has improved the quality of food they are able to eat. As for the “bad charity” notes–I have always been told (by Angel Food workers) that it is a “non-profit business” not a charity. So I guess I can see why one wouldn’t want to donate, but I don’t think that reflects negatively on them as an organization (and given that they negotiate food contracts so they can afford to sell it at those prices and still pay a hefty salary, it doesn’t seem they need donation of money, but instead just time–volunteers to help with distribution).

  25. Nate says:

    My sister and her family bought the Angle Food boxes till the distributer left her area. She was always happy with the food. None of it was spoiled or out of date. I wasn’t really happy with the chicken nuggets, corn dogs, etc but then I don’t generally eat that stuff. However my sister and her husband with 3 kids to feed (1 is handicapped and 1 has a heart problem), a mortage, and 2 car payments make on less than $2,000/month do eat that way. I must say that they did buy fruits and vegetables at the supermarket in addition to the Angle Food box. AF boxes were more of a supplement for her. As you say Trent, for some people it is a good deal. My sister and her family fall into that group. Yeah sure, she’d love to shop at whole Foods and buy top of the line products. Unfortunately in her current financial situation she doesn’t have a choice.

  26. Anthony says:

    If you’re a health buff, eating AF boxes daily might not be such a good idea. But if it’s the price tag that’s the sole basis, $30 can get you to save money. And during this recession, it’s all about calculated expenses.

  27. Matt says:

    Trent,

    I think you go too far out of your way to present a balanced article.

    Any charity which gives over $2.5 million to one family is clearly not allocating their funds in a efficient way.

    Any family who would take $2.5 million dollars from a charity is clearly up to no good.

    You researched this charity and this is clearly the most important aspect of the article. It should be the first thing said, not the last.

    Don’t be afraid to take a strong stand in your writing.

  28. We have both Angel Food Ministries and Great Food For All available in southeast Michigan and northwest Ohio. I’ve used them both, and I like these services. I think they’re a great compliment to the coupon tricks I can do.

    But what works for one family is not of interest or useful to another. And that’s OK.

    The Grocery Game, for example, doesn’t work in my area because of overlapping delivery districts from three Sunday newspaper in two states.

  29. Rob says:

    Sounds like a typical scam hidden behind a “church” name. Ever see a minister or priest drive an old car? Sorry, I dont think jesus would approve of all the high end living and spending the church does. Next time you go to church, check out the priests car.

  30. tightwadfan says:

    I never heard of Angel Food Ministries before. It sounds bogus. The Wingos’ salaries are way too high and from the description of the quality of the food I seriously doubt that the box is really worth $55. I wouldn’t donate to this group and I would be disappointed if my church supported them.

    But the idea of the charity is really good, more people need something like this than ever, and I would definitely support a similar group if it were run ethically.

  31. tightwadfan says:

    For the people who’ve used and been happy with AFM – just curious – does it affect your opinion to know how much the Wingos are making? Would you continue using AFM?

  32. Lenore says:

    Excellent investigative work, Trent! I once considered participating in Angel Food Ministries, but it’s obvious I wouldn’t want to “drink the Kool-aid” from that bunch. I’m cautious about religious-based charities because they have even less regulation and more opportunity for corruption than public non-profits. If there’s anything lower than a bank executive partying with taxpayer bailout money, it’s a self-proclaimed humanitarian stealing or mismanaging donated funds.

  33. Shelly says:

    Thanks so much for this post. A former co-worker of mine told me about her volunteering with her church for Angel Food Ministries, and it’s been something that I’ve considered trying for a while now to save some money. I didn’t even think about the fact that they fail to mention the fat percentages or any details about the cuts of meat that are provided in those boxes. I also had no idea how huge those salaries were for the leaders!

    I think I’m better off sticking to my bargain grocery shopping.

  34. Sunshine says:

    Re: Modest Needs. You can also just send a donation and let them put it where it is needed most, which is what I do.

  35. tentaculistic says:

    My weekly grocery orders are usually around the $35 – $50 mark each, and both stores I order from deliver to my doorstep. Seems a better option than Angel Food, more convenient, and a LOT healthier, at the same price.

    I belong to a D.C. based CSA (WashingtonsGreenGrocer) that for $35 has a “small” (read: HUGE) box of fresh, organic, as-locally-produced-as-possible fruits and veggies. I have the option of removing produce I don’t like and replacing them with extra of other produce in that week’s box, and can add other things (organic milk, cheese, fresh-baked bread, etc) at individual cost. What I’ve found interesting is that now that I get all these fruits & veggies, my non-produce grocery shopping has dropped significantly. Unexpected, but cool!

    The other home-delivery site I use is Giant’s Peapod grocery delivery service, which has a minimum of $50 per order (Safeway’s grocery deliver minimum is I believe $100, and I was not impressed by their produce). I stock up on sale items, especially the large trays of meat (which I individually package for the freezer). Peapod is useful b/c you can also buy shampoo, toilet paper, heavy things you wouldn’t want to lug yourself, etc.

    And for full disclosure, I do NOT work for Washington’s Green Grocer, Peapod/Giant, or Safeway.

  36. Misty says:

    Thank you Tentaculistic (#28) for the Green Grocer suggestion. I live in NOVA and have been considering joining one of these for a while. We just got a Norwegian Au Pair who is used to fresh fruit/veggies/bread so now I know that it will be eaten in our house!
    Trent- thank you for this investigation. It sounds like a decent deal on the surface but after some research it does not sound like much of a deal, much less charity. However, I remember meeting several people when I grew up in SC who would greatly benefit from a program like this.

  37. Mark B. says:

    If one family is making several million combined, it is NOT a charity. They should have rules to be considered a non-profit, no one can make over $100k.

    If this truly was a “Christian” charity then they would be providing this service without raking in CEO type pay. What a hoax.

    Good catch Trent. The one thing posts like this fail to mention is that if you were really in a “desperate” situation financially, almost every state has a food stamp program so no one will go without a meal.

  38. Concerned says:

    I’m an Angel Food volunteer at my church. I support it for two reasons: 1) it helps a lot of people who are in need, and 2) it helps churches become outward-looking groups that serve the community. It’s been wonderful for me to get to know people from the community. I never realized how much people were hurting. We buy additional food to give out free to the neediest. A few customers are too elderly or in wheelchairs to come to the church to pick up their Angel Food orders, so we deliver to them. Two Angel Food customers who received food are now volunteering to help with the distributions.

  39. Johanna says:

    “They should have rules to be considered a non-profit, no one can make over $100k.”

    While I understand your frustration, Mark, I think this statement goes much too far. Non-profit organizations (which, by the way, is a much broader category than “charities”) often employ professionals with highly specialized educations, for whom salaries above $100k are perfectly appropriate, especially at the higher levels of experience.

    While the Wingos’ salaries are probably excessive, it’s hard to say what any individual should be making without knowing what they actually do. Personally, I’m more put off by the apparent nepotism than by the high salaries themselves. But I wasn’t planning on making any donations to a Christian organization that’s in the business of distributing processed meat anyway.

  40. Angela says:

    Mark B. brought up a valid point about food stamps, and I wanted to mention that Angel Food also accepts food stamps as payment for their boxes.
    I have tried Angel Food as a supplemental grocery option due to the steadily rising cost of staple food items. For me, the low quality meat and lack of nutritional content made this a one time only experience.
    Here in the Chicago area, there is an organic farm that will deliver boxes of produce, dairy, and meats that are very high quality for reasonable prices. Google Timber Creek Farms if you are in Northern IL and are looking for quality food delivery.

  41. susan says:

    Our pastor drives a 12 year old pick-up that one of the parishoners sold to him for $100 after his last heap died and left him without transporation.

    As with all groups of people, you can’t paint everyone with the same brush. :)

    <<>>

  42. lisa says:

    We have AFM in my area, but there is no way we could eat the breaded items/high fat items with my other half’s heart condition, so it is not a good bargain for us. The salary information is pretty shocking!!

    As far as Modest Needs goes, that is one of the best charities ever! They truly are there for people that tend to slip through the cracks. I have been donating to them monthly for the last several years-and its almost always been matched by an anonymous donor to double the value of my contribution.

  43. Jan Dillaha says:

    Couple of additions to this conversation.

    To anyone who is interested in seeing the books – tax returns for non-profits are public record. Generally speaking you can get a copy of these returns and other financial documents from the organization as they are required to fulfill such requests.

    Our church leaders elected to not use Angel Food Ministries and instead set up a similar sort of pre-packaged food sale with an independent grocery store. This allowed us to support a local grocer and farmers in our own area. It gives us an opportunity to reach out to the community with tangible help in tough times.

  44. Another Elizabeth says:

    Interesting…My parents have used Angel Food for years (they’ve been dirt broke for my whole life) and my dad helps with the distribution each month at our church. When they first told me about it I looked into it, but I came to much the same conclusion as Trent – the quality is really poor and I could get better for $30 by careful shopping.

  45. Bill in Houston says:

    @ Rob (Comment #22)

    Our rector drives a ’94 Honda Civic. His wife doesn’t have her own car. How do I know? My wife and I know them personally.

    Judge not, lest ye be judged my friend.

    As for Angel Food Ministries, I do think there’s something a little fishy about them. I’ve worked with our area ministry and have seen what they hand out. All of it is shelf stable. It has to be in Houston, where if someone’s power is off their apartment/house can bake in 90 plus degree heat. We box up a lot of canned meat (tuna, chicken, turkey) and canned veggies and fruit. We try to go with inexpensive, but not sugary cereal (usually corn flakes and/or rice krispy types). We also supply powdered milk when we can. We also direct some of the lower income folks toward certain markets (like H Mart) for less expensive fresh produce.

  46. Sharron says:

    Thanks, Trent, for a thorough job reporting on thie charity. While, AFM certainly helps some people in need, there are many other options. Like others have said, I’m concerned by the salaries reported. It would be fun to see a mailbag post where readers could write in with alternatives to AFM in their state/region/local area.

  47. Lou says:

    Trent, i enjoyed both your disclaimer – that you were going to ruffle some feathers – and the comments which , contrary to your expectations/concern, were so supportive.
    This was a very thoughtful and useful post and I encourage you to more often step outside of your comfort zone. It’s how you continue to grow.

  48. tammy says:

    In my giving I had also considered Angel Food Ministries but opted for the local food bank. I think it’s a better option but I cannot deny organizations like Angle Food Ministries are muchly needed during these tough economic times.
    Thanks for a very enlightening and informative post.
    Your objectivity is commendable!

  49. Kris says:

    I agree with Johanna, I think that statement goes too far. How much the salaries are is not as important as how much of each dollar goes to the actual cause. Take a look at the red cross for example. Their CEO makes $565,000 and people might think that is excessive, but they also spend 89% of the money they bring in on the cause they exists for… so in that case, I have no problems with it. People who work for non profits deserve to make a good living too, especially if their skills are bringing in more money into the non profit. However, they have to be bringing in enough for the cause they represent or else people would just be donating to their salaries. For me, when I look at charities, I like one that has at least 80% of the money they bring in going to the cause.

    With this Angel foods ministries, I would definitely like to know how much of each dollar goes to their cause, if its 80% or higher, then I would have no problems with the salaries, maybe with the nepotism, but not the salaries. But I have a gut feeling its probably less than 50%.

  50. Fiery says:

    Thanks for the great info Trent.

    The Salary part is interesting. It really boggles my mine how these “top” people make so much more then the bottom people likely make. Sure someone should be paid properly for their education and experience but these upper positions are often several 100K more then other workers. Most non-profit employees are lucky to make minimum wage, if they make 30-50k they are doing good.

    Sorry this group just does not sit well in my brain.

  51. joan says:

    I tried Angel Food for two months. My finding was that the food was of very low quality, and that with careful shopping; ie. getting marked down meat early in the mornings, getting store specials, etc. I could get much more food for the same amount of money. And pick what food I wanted to use. I really try to use all the food I buy, but with the Angel Food, their breaded meats were obviously the last and cheapest off the line and I had to throw some away. There was more breading than meat, sometimes just chunks of breading. I’m all for anyone stretching their dollar any way they can, and hats off to the local workers who do not get paid for getting the food to the people; but I found Angel Food to high priced for my budget.

  52. joan says:

    Just a note to #18, my grandson’s karate group (church sponsered) just had a special food drive for one of the people who has been out of work for some time. The karate master told him, just take it and don’t make it a big deal. In addition to food there were store cards to buy what else the family needed, and some cash. This week one of my grandson’s teacher took up a collection for a sick special ed teacher, she even asked for a specific amount of money; so no one felt that they didn’t have enough money to help. There are many ways to help other people, sometimes it is a person’s own family. When we loan money to family members up to #200.00, we never ask for it back. When we need something, members of the family are there to help. It works out great for our family.

  53. I thought that was a very fair and balanced article, Trent. Good job.

  54. Kris says:

    I tried Angel Food a few months ago. I found most of the products to be of low quality. As an example, one item was to be “breakfast cereal”. What I received was a small 9 oz. box of “Honey Rings”, made in Argentina! It proclaimed on the box, “Pay only for taste!” Meaning, there was no nutritional value. And indeed there was not, upon looking at the nutrition guide printed on the side of the box. Just sugar and carbs. I can’t imagine where they got this stuff; even cheapo stores like Dollar General don’t sell that type of cereal. Breaded meat chunks were often more breading than meat. You can do much better for the money with store sales and/or coupons.

  55. Marcus says:

    If you have access to low cost quality food ( which generally means by my definition that your area has supermarkets and does not have stupid zoning laws and snobs that hate poor people and/or business competition), you can go to a super market and by all those items in fresh name brands for the same price or less. Plus you can do better by substituting edible food for the gross stuff.

    I read a study- it’s a few years old but prices are pretty much the same- that found the average adult can get his daily requirements of fruits and vegetables for 64 cents a day.

    Eating crap is a choice. Quality food is also cheap, with access being the key. If you don’t have access to food choices, that’s a different story. But a lot of people do and are simply uniformed or choose crap.

    This sounds like a scheme to me. The basket of food probably costs 10 bucks and sells for 30 and then using the highest possible retail price ( do you think they really pay retail name brand prices for low priced junk?) they claim $55 of value. Then the donations meant to subsidize the food actually subsidize $2.5 million lifestyle of the leadership family.

  56. Robyn says:

    I hate to see so many automatically assume all churches and pastors are out to cheat people. I don’t know about this ministry at the higher levels, but at the local level, it is done by volunteers who are getting no benefit out of it for themselves. Our church participated in Angel Food ministries in the Memphis, Tennessee area for awhile. There was no profit in it to any of us personally, who put time and effort into setting up the food distribution. We didn’t get anything free. We had to follow strict guidelines to prevent being accused of cheating someone out of anything, We were not allowed to bag the food, but had to allow everyone to load their own bags, one item at a time, so they would not think we had with held anything. Honestly, it caused caused some stressful moments, because the older volunteers from our church thought the rules were unnecessary, not accepting we had to follow these to protect the church from liability. It was a LOT of work. Someone had to always go get the food, it had to be distributed. We often went to pick people up and bring them to get the food, and took them back home, as we were not allowed to just deliver the food in a box or bag.

    Our own family didn’t enjoy most of the selections and found we could have spent the money on few items that we would actually eat. After purchasing the box, we swapped items with other friends who had purchased also. We gave some away. We threw some away.

    Our church stopped doing it because most of us didn’t like the food quality and decided there were other ways we could invest our time and efforts in serving others that were more suited to our ability and the needs around us. This church was made up of hard working, low-middle income, practical, caring people who were very sacrificial and generous in their care for each other and those around. Angel Food Ministries was not right for us.

    It might make more sense pool funds and buy larger bags of fresh oranges, potatos, etc. than each family would personally need, repackage in smaller sizes so each family could have more variety, and make some extra boxes to share with some less fortunate. At least for a smaller church or group who wants to stretch their resources and reach out to those in need, this would be more flexible and insure fresher food and a healthier, tastier selection. Senior citizens on fixed incomes appreciate the fresh fruit and vegetables in small quantities rather than large portions of things they won’t enjoy eating.

  57. Kris says:

    It appears that my gut feeling would be wrong. According to their 2007 990 they brought in 27,734,084 and 20,530,032 went to program services. That would be 74%… not great, but not as bad as I originally thought. What I find strange is that according to their 990, the salaries were far less in 2007 than in 2006. They must have given themselves some bonuses in 2006.

    @RRPF Comment #12. In the 2007 990 they have the full names and relationship to each other and you can see that its a mother, father, son, son and nephew… so not quite as sleazy as it looks.

    It’s definitely far more interesting to look through the actual 990 returns than just what little data a so called watch websites puts up.

  58. Kolleen says:

    I was going to try Angel food boxes but they are not in my area. Purhaps I dodged a bullit there. But frankly I’m not truely a frugel person, I am,I hate the word poor,but thats what it is. I go to every food bank in my town when I can. You have to wait 30 to 60 days in between visits depending on the food bank. Frankly the food at food banks is not much better then what I have been reading about here, except somone paid for it. It’s really hit and miss. There will always be beans,rice and oatmeal. I come to this site and many others to find ways to cope with the shortfall in money every month. One day I will be paying down debt, and looking at an emergency fund that wont be in a piggy bank but the actuall bank. All I want you to know is if you can get to a store and buy a weeks worth of grocerys, do.

  59. dsz says:

    I volunteer at our local food pantry and several of our clients have tried AF and were not happy with the selections. I looked into buying a box for a friend who is on SSI and once I worked out the cost of the items I found I could do my regular shopping (Sam’s Club, farmer’s market, sales) and make my own box of higher quality food for less.
    That being said, I have the benefit of time, transportation, and abundant freezer and pantry space. She’s a single mom with no car, a tiny apartment, and a child who has doctor visits/therapy four days out of five. If she were doing it on her own AF would be better than nothing.
    Regarding the comment (#11) of bagging the sugary cereal at a food pantry: we give what we get. Our pantry buys most of the items we distribute from the local food bank. For the most part it conforms to USDA nutrition guidelines (canned fruit/veg, pasta, beans, rice, frozen meat, pb&j) along with mac n cheese and boxed potatoes. But, we also get donations from individuals and local businesses and distributors. So we end up with canned pumpkin that never made it into a pie, odd ‘gourmet’ items that sat on a shelf, bashed in boxes and cases with damaged labels and huge bags of sugary cereal. In a perfect world we’d be giving out only top-shelf items, but then again, in a perfect world there’d be no need for food pantries.
    Please don’t withold your support based on that one experience, and if Trent will allow a plug:
    Our pantry has gone from serving about 60 families a month to over 150 in less than a year and we’re in one of the nicer suburbs in our area, the inner cities have it even worse than we do. If you’re able, please donate. Each pantry has different distribution guidelines based on timing and storage (some don’t have freezers and such) but each item of edible food is welcomed. If you have a surplus, pass it on, but before you go shopping for a food pantry, ask first. Because we are a registered member of a food bank we can buy food for $.18 a pound so that dollar you would spend on a box of macaroni will go much farther as a cash donation.
    Given the times there are so many more families in need and every little bit helps. As I tell our clients, we’re all in this together.

  60. angelabpa says:

    I’m a health care provider in rural Northern New Mexico. The only place poorer in the United States is the Appalachians. The only place that has a higher rate of diabetes, heart disease, and obesity is Mississippi. The reason for this is poverty, lack of access to quality food. There’s a myth that processed foods are cheaper and healthy.

    The food listed in the Angel Food box is exactly kind of garbage disguised as nourishment that I try to keep my patients from eating. Corn dogs? Not only is this food a poor value as an up-front purchase but the add on costs of the health care resulting from a diet like this is part of the reason our system is such a mess.

    Also, I grew up as the daughter of a minister. We were pretty much broke. Our clothes were hand-me-downs and I don’t think I rode in a new car until I was 31. As much as I have grown to dislike religion and dogma, overgeneralizations aren’t a good way to have an effective arguement, the world is a little more complex than that. I got that from my ex-minister dad, too.

  61. Dot says:

    I trust that the food is of good quality. I just purchased two food packages for families in South Carolina. I also ordered a package for a friend of mine here in Boston. I will be checking the the quality of of the food.
    Currently I purchase food packages from http://www.servenewengland.org a few times a year.

  62. Michael says:

    When I first started seeing fliers for this program distributed at my workplace, I chose not to participate because I felt guilty (despite the charity’s note that everyone is welcome to use the service, I know that I’m not a part of the target financial demographic). Really informative article — you basically answered all the questions that I never thought to ask.

  63. K says:

    Wesley J. Wingo (Joe)= founder/ pastor/CEO
    Linda Wingo= pastor/co-founder & wife of Joe
    Andrew Wingo= son
    Wesley Wingo= son
    L.M. Wingo= daughter-in-law Lindsey

    Joe did a year in prison for extorting $17,500 from a neurosurgeon before founding AFM. Lots of other alleged misdeeds in the family. After reading up on this I can’t believe Dateline or 20/20 has never done a story on this. Sickening.

  64. Kris says:

    I can speak from personal experience about Angel Food Network. My husband was laid off from his last job about 5 years ago, and then went to pharmacy school, but had to drop out after 2 1/2 years because of increasingly poor health ( he is older and is a heart & diabetes patient). We were left with over $50K in student loans. Although I work, without his ability to work anymore ( he was let go from two pretty bad part-time jobs for a poor memory ), we were pretty strapped, since we are repaying the student loan debts. I thought over using Angel Food and talked with the pastor of the local church distribution center, and he said, ” COME ON DOWN” so we decided to give it a try. We used it for about 10 months, and the church did an excellent job. Unfortunately, what we noticed was the the quality of the meat disintegrated as the months rolled on. The first 2-3 months, the meat was very good. Now, with the “grill boxes” we had ordered at the last couple of distributions, we found the little grilled circles wrapped in a piece bacon were really just scrap meat held together by the bacon. We have to cut it up and put it in soup so as not to waste it, and it’s very troublesome to get the fat off. We do better at Aldi’s ( yes ours actually has good meat) and by buying meat on markdown at Krogers. I think the wholesalers have been ripping Angel Food off. My husband got disability from Social Security, and I got a promotion at work for which I am very grateful, so we were able to stop using Angel Food, but we certainly wish the local church well for the good job they do.

  65. Candi says:

    Well I have to say I honestly object because they put leaflets in the boxes. I don’t think anyone who needs food should have to get a moral lesson with it to get a full stomach. I don’t think I can adequately express how wrong I find that idea. Not to mention the food quality issues, overpaid family executives etc. I will be warning folks to stay clear of this group. Thanks for the heads up Trent!

  66. Sharon says:

    I’ve used Angel Food for a couple of months and found it helpful mostly for the time and cash strapped. If I had had more time at that place in my life, I certainly could have done better at the store, but the pick up was a one-time event and the food very easy to fix, although I felt the meat was breaded to death. I could see where it would be a HUGE help to a single mother who works for instance. No opinion on the salaries here…well, I wonder what the salaries were in 2005. Maybe that showed up in 2006…

  67. Kristen says:

    just wanted to say that I got Angel Food boxes for months when I was a single mother. I don’t now because like many other posters, I can get healthy food with my dollars and I’ve learned to be a much better shopper with those dollars ;)

    I didn’t notice the food to be of bad quality though – and my boxes never had tracts in them. Maybe that is recent?

  68. Tessa says:

    Ive helped distribute AFM for a little over a year now. Our church started a host site and it has helped many people in that community and quite frankly I dont care what the CEO’s make or what ANY preacher makes for that matter. Stock Brokers make more than that and they certainly arent trying to help as many people. Its a service to help people the rest is of little importance so long as it does its job. Also, the food banks in my surrounding areas have wonderful organic meat and dairy products..I know because we donate to them by the truck load. Every church is different, every charity is different, every food bank is different. Stop assuming the cookie cutter shape applies simply because it make it easier for you to judge.

  69. I appreciate the post and all of its information. I will say that when I was feeding a family of 4 on $20 a week while we were in school still, I sure wish I had Angel Food Available. Sadly it would have been an improvement in our Fish Sticks and Hamburger Helper rotation. Luckily for us that time in our lives was a stepping stone and it is not how we have had to live for years on end.

  70. Stacey says:

    I have been getting AFM for 5 years now and my family loves it. I have never found the meat to be of poor quality. 90 % of the meat that is consumed in my household comes from AFM. I am not a big steak eater so I would not buy any kind of steak at the store but it turns out that my kids love steak. If it didn’t come in the main box I would not have known that. Also I have found that in the past the fruit and vegetables were not that great. But this is something that AFM is trying to change and I think they have done a great job. As for the literature that they print to go with the box, that is left up to each distribution site as to weather or not they want to hand this information out in each box or leave the information out where some one can take it if they want it. I personally look forward to receiving the little magazine they print every month. Yes it has some inspirational articles but also some informative articles that are important to my life at the moment. I also enjoy the recopies that actually use the products in food box for that month. Any non profit organization can distribute AFM, not just churches. My sister gets hers for a local Boy Scout troupe in her area while my aunt gets hers from the VFW down the street from her house. As for donating to AFM do it locally. There were a few times when I could not afford the basic box and some one bought one for me. There were a few times when I could afford a couple of basic boxes so I bought one for some one else. You may not know who in your area needs help putting food on the table but your local AFM distributor will and they will make sure that hungry families do not stay that way.

  71. Sharon Scott says:

    Just a comment about the 2006 salaries for the Wingos…while on the surface this looks like an astronomical amount, if Trent would do his research he would have found that this organization began in the mid-1990′s and from the get-go the Wingo’s took little or NO salary. The 2006 was a compensation for those previous years, in addition to paying them back monies that they themselves loaned to get Angel Food up and running, when compared with others multi-million dollar charities their compensation is average. A unit of food feeds a family of 4 dinners for one week, since most of the items are frozen, you can stretch the items out over the month. For those that were disappointed with the quality of food, did you let the host-site director know? As a local host-site director for over two years, I have had very few complaints, and when I did, Angel Food replaced any items that were unsatisfactory. There are over 5000 host sites, and most of us (myself included) volunteer, over 45,000. The payroll for Angel Food has less than 250 people on it. I see from your article, your food preferences for your family, but maybe you should actually try a box, before commenting. I, myself don’t order each month, but even for middle income families it is a great way to stretch our food budget. Unlike some of the other programs involved there are no membership fees or volunteer hours required. I would ask that you take another careful look. Thank you.

  72. GregW says:

    I found this coupon code, it is valid for Angel Food Ministries food boxes, and gives you 10% off a signature box. Angel Food Coupon Code “10sig98″. The problem is that I believe it is limited and expires in July. Pass it around

  73. Brian says:

    What reason at all do you have for trying to bash an organization that allows low-income families to receive food at a discounted price? They are providing a commendable service to people. Of course it’s not top-quality, organic food. Some of the quality comments are ridiculous. Are all of you really that out of touch with reality of what a lot of American families go through when trying to feed their families. It’s the same type of food that MILLIONS of people purchase at their local Wal-Mart everyday of the week at a discount. End of story. The food is decent, the price is definitely fair and this is a nice program to help families, especially at a time like this when many people are losing their jobs. Please, use your common sense.

  74. Ashley says:

    Thank you Brian! (comment #74)

    I too find it ridiculous that people are complaining about the quality. I go without food a lot of the time, eating one meal a day. I have yet to buy from AFM but I am going to give it a try.

  75. Steve says:

    We are a non-religious organization (library) that became a host site for AFM several months ago. In that time period, we have steadily increased the number of boxes sold to the public. and many are repeat customers. (In addition, the number of host sites in our city has also grown.) We have never had the problems of food spoilage that many of you are claiming. Granted, the food quality is average in terms of fat. But who are you people trying to kid? It’s no worse than what the average American puts in their shopping cart every day. If you don’t agree with that, then ask yourself why obesity is epidemic in this country? The fact is, if you are having a tough time feeding your family, plain and simple, it’s a good deal.

    After researching AFM’s troubles, it seems to me that the two members of the Board are trying to do the right thing by contacting the FBI. It doesn’t make the organization bad. I wonder how many of you feel the need to trash AFM just because it’s a Christian organization? And to the women who didn’t like the Christian literature put in her box, tough. Don’t read it. Nobody is forcing you to. It’s AFM’s job to spread what they believe in while they try to help those that need it. I get the feeling that you’re one of those types that want charity when and how you want it with no strings attached. Grow up. Life doesn’t work like that. You should be happy somebody is trying to help.

  76. Sheila Tandrian says:

    I’m just interested in finding information of what this program is about. I’m a single Mother worjing two jobs and barley making it. Thankyou!

  77. Our charity raises funds to pay for AFM food for low-income seniors who don’t have $30 a month to spare for extravagant things like meat on a regular basis. And, AFM is an option that has worked out better than supplying donated canned meat–high in sodium and short on variety–for these disadvantaged seniors. All things are seen from one’s own perspective. Those who really understand the value of receiving AFM food can’t afford computers or Internet service to respond to many objections on this site.

  78. Em says:

    We have been using this program for about 6 months now. We usually get 2 of the basic boxes for $30each and 2 of the veggie boxes and whatever other special fits our needs.
    There are some items we can’t use. I have a pork allergy and we all hate celery. Yet even this is a good thing because it allows us to give to someone else! We have several friends who are unemployed and have similar struggles. So to us, it isn’t waste, it is opportunity.
    As far as the non-brand name items go, I have no problem with the quality. Before corporate giants took over the food industry, that was the norm, a lot of small town brands keeping small towns employed.
    Sure we get a few items that are not the pinnacle of proper eating. I put a small amount of the above named ‘cereal in question” in a cup as a treat. Sometimes you have to have food that is fun.
    One of the nicest things is the time we save and the bonding we share. We have one day a month that we all pile in the car and pick up our orders.(We have a local SHARE program also) We get to meet the nicest people. They are so kind to share the ways they are making it through the rough times. We always seem to hear about something fun and free or inexpensive to do in the coming days. It is like Christmas for the boys as they unpack and put away everything….and when they find we get a baby watermelon….well that is an event. This is not at all the way it used to be when we shopped at the store. Anyone with children can tell you the pitfalls of grocery stores……..and when pinching pennies, keeping all of the non-essentials out of the eyes of the children is a great thing!
    We have tried a lot of new foods too. Chayote squash was a hit. The Angel Foods magazine and flyer has recipes that use the foods found in the basic box and the other specials too. This helps when I sit down and write out a menu for the month. Another good habit I have learned! I take about an hour to set up the menu so each night I can make sure I have things thawed for the next day. I still have to get a few items at the store to round things out, but that is a quick trip with a list and I am out in no time and on budget.
    All in all, it is what you make it. After all, is it the food you remember or the companionship? I may have what some deem lesser quality food on the table, but I have more time and BETTER times with my family now than I did before. The corn dogs we had on ‘Carnival Supper Night’ were a hit and almost as much fun as going to the local festival for one! The new friends and connections are priceless. Seeing how happy the volunteers are to make this one need in our life just a bit easier to come by…….well that is enough said. I have learned some real lessons in life while living on less and I wouldn’t trade them for anything. Much love…..to ALL

  79. Hilda says:

    I’ve tried AFM food and I thought the selection was fine for the $30 a month menu. I have always thought that people have options to purchase it or not. I think people shouldn’t get all picky about the menu.If you wish to try a healthier menu on is open to purchasing Organic /healthier products at Farmers Markets & Higher end Markets. Living in California the cost of living is much higher then other states in America. My options are open for either – Whether shopping at Ma & Pa store, Walmart , Trader Joes or Wild Oats. It’s just depending on what one wants to eat or budget. I think it’s perfect if it’s a single low income family who has lost there job and there is no food on the table. Or those living on fix income due to illness- I’m sure they could purchase fresh fruits & veg’s at the market to even out the differences. People should remember that with these economic times one shouldn’t complain or bite the hand that is extending the help… You never know when the tough moment comes and you are left needed assistance.

  80. Hilda says:

    I’ve tried AFM food and I thought the selection was fine for the “$30 ” menu. I have always thought that people have options to purchase it or not. I think people shouldn’t get all picky about the menu.And if you can find a better deal & have time time to clip coupons- “POWER TO YOU… And ..If you wish to try a healthier menu on is open to purchasing Organic /healthier products at Farmers Markets & Higher end Markets. Living in California the cost of living is much higher then other states in America. Jobs are being lost left from right.Our state senators have cut out state budget for those in deep need. My options are open for either – Whether shopping at Ma & Pa store, Walmart , Trader Joes or Wild Oats. It’s just depending on what one wants to eat or budget. I think it’s perfect if it’s a single low income family who has lost there job and there is no food on the table. Or those living on fix income- I’m sure they could purchase fresh fruits & veg’s at the market to even out the differences. People should remember that with these economic times one shouldn’t complain or bite the hand that is extending the help… You never know when the tough moment comes knocking at your door and you are left needing assistance.

  81. Deb K says:

    New for August is that you no longer have to buy a ‘Standard’ box to buy one of the specials. Also, in July Angel Food responded to customer input and made changes to the ‘Signature Box’ – adding more fresh ingredients and keeping the processed food to a minimum.

    I’ve been buying boxes of Angel Food for over a year now and I, too, noticed an increase in processed food high in salt and fat included in the Signature Box. As a single parent I really don’t mind one pre-cooked meal a week (for that day when I’m just too pooped to cook!), but I skipped at least one month that just had too much. I really love the Fresh Fruit & Veggie box all year round. There have been problems with freezing vegetables, but I never lost more than a few potatoes or onions. I noticed that when I report losses to the AFM site, there is generally a replacement item for me next month.

    This host site does have some people who are definiately not in ‘financial’ crisis who Support Angel Food in order to make sure that it is available those in current need of food relief.

    AFM is more of a cooperative effort than a Charity – which explains why they would not meet ‘Charitable’ expectations. AFM seeks more the help people help themselves rather than serve as a charitable ‘hand-out’ to the needy.

    The Senior Meals have also been re-worked and I’ve heard that they are more tasty than in the past. These meals are created with seniors in mind and so effort is made to keep sodium and fats down – which has the unfortunate effect of less flavor. (Flavorings and spices are easier to add than remove, after all)

    I believe that I get more variety with Angel Food than I used to get when I took 2 hours to make a list, clip coupons, travel to the 3 different markets (Aldi’s, Price Chopper, and Walmart) with my pad, pen, and calculator trying the get the most for my money.

  82. Bethany says:

    What I have been impressed with is their allergen-free box. I don’t eat gluten, but I can get chicken nuggets and such for much cheaper than I can buy them at the grocery store. This month they’ve added on some dry mixes as well. If you’re eating GFCF, or anything else free, checking into their allergen-free box might be worth it.

  83. Bull Schuck says:

    #63, here’s a bit more detailed, and perhaps salacious account of the settlement this Spring.

    http://www.ajc.com/services/content/printedition/2009/03/07/angelfood0307.html

    and

    http://ydr.inyork.com/ci_11853629

    $10 grand a month profit for plane rentals? And for the record, I was looking at using them for our own cupboard but thought that the costs were just too high for what you get.

  84. Dee says:

    If you don’t like the foods from Angel Ministries you are really spoiled. one of the July meat boxes had the most beautiful tasty t-bone steaks that I have ever had…maybe because this is the only way I have been able to afford t-bone steaks when the grocery charges 9.98 – 12.98 per pound. Several of my friends buy the food from Angel and we can hardly wait for the new menues to be posted to see what we get the next month. If there is food listed that we don’t eat, I don’t buy that box but anyone can benefit from the fruit and veggie box – it’s always fresh. I guess it’s possible for some of the distributors to mis-handle the food but not where I go to get mine. Use your head, buy the boxes you would eat. You wouldn’t buy a bag of food at the super market that contained foods you don’t like to eat and then blame the supermarket for selling it to you….and condeming them for making a profit.
    As for the salaries of the founders of this system – who cares what they make – they built a better mouse trap. Isn’t that the roots of America.

  85. zan says:

    I started a job last year that pays 30% less than my former job. I’ve made good use of this service, as have my aging parents and single-mom sister. Recently they have added a seafood only option and eliminated the requirement of the basic box. That means you can order just the foods that your family will eat. I sincerely hope that the Wingos have not taken advantage with their salaries as has the United Way in Charlotte NC. This program is a great help to low income people, especially those in rural areas that don’t have competitive groceries or Aldi’s. The quality of the food has been 95% good. sometimes the desserts stink, sometimes they are great. I’m a huge fan of the program and seeing all the friendly volunteers at our local distribution church. They even carry the boxes to our cars for us. I’m not overtly religious, but this time my prayers are with this program.

  86. GregW says:

    Hey, I believe there is a huge misconception here. Angel Food Ministries is a non profit, but they are not a donation based charity. There are no donors, fund raisers or requests for handouts. It seems to be a $140 million self perpetuating organization that does good work and doesn’t take anyone’s money.

    Please look at that again and check.

  87. Byron T says:

    I just picked up my first box of food from Angel Food Ministries yesterday, and am very grateful for the rib eye steak, lettuce, and egg I cooked for dinner tonight. This was the first meal I have prepared in over a year that didn’t involve a microwave, or boiling water poured over a Cup O’Noodles. I can’t afford to be particular these days about what sustains me. When/if I am more financially secure, I will further investigate the organization, and the nutritional content of the food, etc. In the meantime, I’ll be eating better than I have in a long time, at I price I can just barely afford, and will continue to be grateful for it.
    Excellent reporting, by the way. Kudos!

  88. Twins Mom says:

    I don’t know why some of you are complaining so much about Angel Food. I bought my first box last month and was really impressed with the quality of the food. The veggies were delicious. My dessert wasn’t Twinkes or Little Debbie cakes… it was low-fat fig newtons. There was a very fresh head of lettuce as well as a dozen eggs. The pound of hamburger had NO fat in it.. when I fried it, I didn’t have to pour any grease out of the pan.
    I found the quality to be very good and a very good deal for $30… something that you couldn’t buy for at a grocery store. I have a friend that has been using Angel Food for over a year or more now and loves it.
    Like another poster said, look at people’s items in their grocery carts and you’ll see far worse in their carts. For families that have to be on a budget, $30 is a god-send for a week’s worth of food.
    Maybe some of you have forgotten what it’s like to be hungry.

  89. Tina says:

    I personally don’t use many of the items in the package so I have never order it. but I have known a lady who continue to purchase the basic box without eating everything either.

    Interesting about the charity navigator site. Tzuchi is an organization I donate to and it’s a well established international charity started from Taiwan, but it’s not listed on the charity navigator’s site. I wonder what’s the criteria for being listed on the site and what being listed there means.

  90. Phyllis says:

    We aren’t food snobs and don’t envy wealth so I don’t care what the Wingo family makes. The director in this city of the YMCA makes over 1/4 million a year and has hired his wife and his son, and his son-in-law.

    About 8 months ago my sister started getting Angel Food for her son (unemployed); 6 months ago started getting one for herself; 5 months ago I got a box for myself and one for my son (also unemployed). There has never been one speck of food that has gone to waste. We have no complaints. The meat is great. I have never found any food that was of lesser quality than what I was buying at Aldi or Walmart.

    Every month my sister and I find things in the boxes that we’ve never had before (she also gets a fruit/veggie box). It stretches not only our budgets but stretches our minds in finding recipes using those things, making us step out of our food “comfort zone” and learning to enjoy new tastes. I’ve hated lima beans since I was 4 years old; we got lima beans in Angel Food in September. I went to the Internet and found a recipe from the Soup Nazi restaurant in New York for lima bean soup. I added 2 c. chicken for a more hearty soup and it is absolutely delicious! I did give my son the sweet potatoes we got one month because he likes them. I have never, ever thrown any food away from the Angel Food boxes.

    I check the sales flyers before I pick up my Angel Food, and every month, without fail, the food would have cost me between $57-$72. I’m happy to pay $30 for that much food.

    I take 2 laundry baskets with me, put them on a kitchen cart, and go along the tables set up with food. The volunteers behind those tables hand me the food or put it into the baskets, I say “thank you”, say “yes” to the person who comes up to me and asks me if I’d like someone to carry it to the car for me, and I’m out of there in a total of 20 minutes. If I’m there longer it’s because I’ve gone early to talk to folks.

    I’m one of those people who doesn’t “need” to buy Angel Food, but every dime I save on my own food means I have more money I can spend to help others. At our distribution church if someone doesn’t pick up their food it goes to a food bank where people get it for free. The more people who buy Angel Food the better because the more food AFM contracts for, the better pricing they get.

    Because I’m a widow this one basic box lasts me for more than a month with the supplement of fresh fruit when in season. Right now the freezer at the top of my refrigerator is so full I will give my box away this month. I met a lady who picked up her AF in September who is on dialysis and is having a hard time financially. I called the church, but no one knew who she was.

    Dialysis diets are something I know a lot about, so if I can find her I am going to swap all the protein in my food box (including the steaks), plus some chicken and pork chops in my freezer, for those things in hers that she isn’t supposed to eat.

    By the time I get the November delivery, my freezer will be a bit emptier, but maybe I can help her again once in awhile; and that is what community is; helping one another when you can. Had I not been getting AF myself, I’d never have met this lady and maybe wouldn’t have the chance to help her. I’m praying I can find her.

  91. Sharon Scott says:

    The great thing about Angel Food is EVERYONE can benefit, and if you choose to order online make sure you take advantage of a coupon code that can be found at retailmenot.com by entering “angel food” in their search bar. Remember you no longer need to order any main unit to get a special and Thanksgiving Boxes can be ordered through October 28th….I am still reading comments about the Wingos salary so…..Okay let me try again, Angel Food Ministries is a non-profit organization NOT a charity BIG difference….that being said all of the hoopla is well overblown, I am a local hostsite director in PA and have been for over 2 years, the Wingos went without salaries for many years and used their own money loaned to the organization so the 2006 Salary was compensation to repay a lot of that back. If you go back and check the financials in 2007 and 2008 they are comprable to other multi-million dollar NON-Profit orgaization salaries

  92. Phyllis says:

    I found the lady who is on dialysis that I mentioned above. We will be swapping at least some food every month so she has enough protein and fewer processed foods. Thank you, Jesus.

  93. Charlene says:

    My family has used Angelfood for several years and have seen it come a long way in quality and variety. We never throw anything away. If we get something too high in fat, we keep it in the freezer until we go camping with kids and grandkids and use it then so that after one meal it is gone. We do buy quite a bit of food at the grocery store for variety, and even with coupons and sales there is no way I could buy that much food for the cost of a regular box.The meat alone would cost more than that. Here even a Banquet family entree, which used to mean really cheap eating, now cost $4, and even the markdowns on meats are not cheap anymore. And really, when I am in the check out line or going down the aisles, I see how most people really eat. Guess what, Angelfood is usually healthier. If a box has too much breaded/processed food that month, I just don’t buy it. It is a great option for some people and although I wouldn’t want it to be the only thing I had to eat, it is definitely a great budget stretcher.

  94. Marquita Martin says:

    I have used Angel Food in the past to help feed my family of five (including four teen-agers). I do think their best bargains are the optional boxes. The main monthly selection does not provide enough meat to feed four teen-agers, so I would have to supplement with an optional box. The meat is not very good quality, and there is too much processed meat. The fruits and vegetable boxes are good if you don’t want organic food. Since one of my sons has to eat a high fiber, low gluten diet because of his health, I choose to buy organic root vegetables and some organic fruits for him. And, yes, it is bought with food stamps. I know people on food stamps are expected to eat the cheapest, most unhealthy food there is, but my son can’t do that.
    The other problem I have is with the staff at Angel Food ministries. They are the most rude people I have ever encountered in a food pantry ministry and I have had to use every one in my zip code area. They treat us like trash. So I do not buy from Angel Food any more. My self-esteem is low enough because of being unemployed for so long without having so-called Christians tear it down even further. I really appreciate your article.

  95. Patti C. says:

    I was a food stamp eligibility worker for 9 years. From my experience, I know that a lot of the poor will eat this stuff.

    Food banks tend to have a lot of cookies, other packaged stuff, and dry milk. Sometimes they don’t even have a can of tuna or any beef stew for protein. Yes, most Americans do want meat. Corn dogs aren’t that bad a food, if you like them. Most Americans need some occasional junk food. Really needs some fresh food supplementation!

    If a low income family is having to work a couple of jobs, this is also convenient. It can be hard to go from grocery store to grocery store without a car.

    FYI, wheeled luggage carriers are excellent donations to charity.

    I am now on Social Security disablity and have a lot of food allergies. I think you can do better at the grocery stores. I keep tons of rice, pasta, potatoes, stuff like that, and supplement them with meat and fresh produce.

    Angel Food is supposed to serve first quality food. I really don’t know. It is definitely something you need to evaluate for yourself.

    The fact that it has no income questions or eligibility questions also makes it very attractive. There are lots of working people who run short on money due to car repairs or something and then need help with food. Suppose the toilet breaks and one has to buy a new toilet and pay a plumber! During my years in welfare, I saw lots of more middle class people who were in a jam who simply were too high income for food stamps. And then they get their feelings hurt because they work and pay the taxes for the food stamps.

    Most of them would probably feel better about buying a food box than just taking food from a food pantry.

    There are also many low income families who skirt the income limits for food stamps. One month they can’t qualify for food stamps and the next month they can.

    I’ve seen a famly of three who had income about $25 under the food stamp limits and get about $150 of food stamps. But, when the head of household goes a penny over the food stamp limit, they get no food stamps. That’s the way government works; it has cutoffs.

    It probably be helpful if families could share with each other what they don’t eat, like I don’t eggs.

    If more middle middle class families knew about this program, I think it would help them a lot.

    I also like the idea of some food stamp recipients buying these food boxes because a lot of them just blow their money irresponsibly.

  96. Shane denmark says:

    I have worked at Angelfood Ministries and these folks are crooks. Greed has taken over, and the quality of food has gone down. I want to let you know that the frozen food items and the fruit and veggie box is being packed in a hot warehouse ranging from 85-100 degrees.

  97. Jennifer says:

    We got a box last year and the food was horrible quality. It is all unhealthy, sub standard food. They ought to be ashamed selling that rubbish. It is not a ministry, it is a scam. We could have bought they same items at Aldi and it would have been better quality and cheaper. We are fortunate to have at least 6 grocery stores within a mile of where we live. We check the local ads and stock up on their loss leader specials. Don’t buy from Angel Food, it is no deal.

  98. Cathi says:

    I will be trying Angel Food for the first time this month. I don’t care if it’s low quality meat, at least it is meat and I have been living for months on peanut butter sandwiches and on spaghetti (Hunts spaghetti sauce=$1 per can) because that is all I can afford right now. So, at this point ANY meat will taste just fine to me. I have been saving up $30 and I am looking forward to my box of food.

  99. frugal financial planner says:

    Listen to Dave Ramsey or Leo Burkett of Crown Financial Ministries:

    1. SAVE UP 6 – 12 Months of LIVING EXPENSES so you do NOT NEED Angel Food Ministries.

    2. Cut Down or CUT OFF your Cell Phone if you have trouble saving 6-12 Mo’s Living Expenses.

    3. Cut-Down or CUT OFF your Cable TV if you have trouble saving 6-12 Mo’s Living Expenses.

    4. Drive Your Car 7-10 Years and Save 6-12 Mo’s Living Expenses while you have no car payment.

    * God should be your source, Not Angel Food Min!

  100. Ripped Off says:

    Received our first order, and the majority of the food had to be thrwon away. This food isnt fit for animal consumption, if not the possibility of giving you food poison. Had fish sticks in order that tasted like rotten fish. I have written for a refund. The reason those of you give a good review would be you must work for the church that dustributes the food, because you receive a kickback on the order. Dont waste you time, and money, better food for less can be purchased at Walmart. They were investigated by the FBI. For a non profit org. they sure do pay themselves well by feeding off the poor people, they should burn in &*^%

  101. Katie says:

    Some of the comments here have been really amusing: people saying AF food is garbage, or horrible for children, or not fit for human consumption. Wow! You must have gotten food that was stored improperly and should definitely let your site coordinator know as s/he can get a refund for you.

    Trent, you do the program a disservice when you say that people who don’t “need” this kind of program shouldn’t use it. 1) the host site gets $1 from each box to use in its own ministries and 2) as a poster above said, every dime she doesn’t spend on food is a dime she can use to help others.

    Whether one gives away saved money or not isn’t important for the sake of this argument, but as you have said yourself many times, every spending choice you make has an impact on spending/life options you have later. You are putting your own values on others by saying if you can afford to pay more for food then you should spend more on food by buying from another place.

    As you know, most people choose to save money where it doesn’t matter much to them so they can spend it where it does. The things that are important and unimportant to me will probably be different from what is important and unimportant to you. I wouldn’t impose my priorities on you and don’t expect you to tell me where I should or shouldn’t direct my resources.

    If you are not sure if Angel Food is for you, give it a try. It’s only about $21-41 to try a box, depending on what kind/size of box you get. If you find it to be a good deal for your family keep ordering. If it isn’t a good deal for your family, don’t order it again. Simple, isn’t it?

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