Both churches saw a large increase in demand for food in July.
By KATIE LIBECCO
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
Lines began to form outside Covenant Community Center in Lake Milton and New Springfield Church of God early Saturday for a food program by Angel Food Ministries, a nonprofit organization that provides low-cost food to folks in need.
"Several people told me that this month that this was the first time they didn't have to choose between prescriptions and food," said the Rev. Dane Price of Covenant Community Center. "Some literally cried when they received the food."
Pat Cooper was among the grateful recipients.
"This is just great. We wouldn't be able to afford a lot of this in stores," said Cooper, who participated in the program for the first time Saturday at New Springfield Church of God. "My husband is on disability, so this helps us out a lot."
With Angel Food, there are no memberships or obligations to buy the food. There are no limits on the amount that can be ordered, applications to fill out or income requirements.
Who showed up
Saturday's turnout at the churches ranged from large families to senior citizens to college students.
"We have every age range here receiving food and volunteering," said New Springfield Church of God volunteer Gayle Patrick. "It has really grown."
Angel Food Ministries works through nonprofit groups and volunteer efforts. Fifty church members helped to distribute food at the New Springfield Church of God on Saturday.
"It can be a lot of work sometimes, but it is worth every minute of it," the Rev. Mr. Price said.
New Springfield Church of God distributed 57 boxes of food last month, and Covenant Community Center distributed 51 boxes.
Both churches saw a large increase in demand this month: New Springfield Church of God distributed 151 boxes; Covenant Community Center distributed 220 boxes.
Coordinators at both churches reported that recent media coverage had directly impacted the increase.
"It was like as soon as people heard about the program, it just took off," Mr. Price said.
Mr. Price reported that when the doors opened for food distribution, there were 60 people waiting in line. "It's phenomenal," he said. "It's an awesome way of reaching out to many people in the community."
To receive food, participants must go to the church before distribution day to request and pay for the food. A basic unit of food costs $25.
The order must be paid in cash, although Angel Food Ministries is working to participate in Ohio's Food Stamp Program.
August's menu includes 4 pounds of honey-dipped split chicken breast, 2 pounds of smoked sausage, 3 pounds of chicken breast filets, 2 pounds of french fries, 1 pound each of meatballs and ground turkey, 14 ounces of steak portions, a rising crust pizza, 7.5 ounces each of macaroni and cheese, corn muffin mix and pancake mix, 16 ounces of ketchup, 116 ounces of green peas, 16 ounces of vegetable mix, 15 ounces of pears, a dozen eggs and dessert.
After buying the basic unit of food, participants can choose three additional specials in August: a 4-pound box of bacon-wrapped beef filets for $18, 36 Nestle hot pockets in assorted flavors for $17 and a 10-pound box of chicken wings for $17.
Food distributed to the public comes directly from the manufacturers and is not secondhand. July's distribution included brands such as Kraft, Tyson and Pillsbury.
"The food quality is tremendous," Price noted.
Pastors at both churches said they wanted to get other area churches involved with Angel Food Ministries. These are the only two Angel Food Ministries affiliates in Ohio.
Information for interested churches and community centers is available at www.angelfoodministries.com or by contacting either church.
"This is really just such a blessing," said Karen Wamer, coordinator of Angels Food Ministries at the New Springfield Church of God. "There are so many people that need money and food. This is a great way to help them."