Angel Food Ministries out of business

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After 17 years of selling discount groceries to families in need across the country, Angel Food Ministries has closed.

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Danny Stoms, left, and Robert Steudle pack boxes of food for Angel Food Ministries at the Helping People Start Over Ministries building on Gordon Highway in Augusta Saturday morning March 20, 2010.       MICHAEL HOLAHAN/Staff
MICHAEL HOLAHAN/Staff
Danny Stoms, left, and Robert Steudle pack boxes of food for Angel Food Ministries at the Helping People Start Over Ministries building on Gordon Highway in Augusta Saturday morning March 20, 2010.

The Monroe, Ga.-based nonprofit will stop operations immediately, according to a statement Wednesday.

The news, while sad, isn’t a surprise, said Rana O’Bryant, the coordinator for Angel Food Ministries at her church, Second Providence Baptist Church of North Augusta. Hers is one of more than 30 churches in Augusta, Evans, Thomson, Aiken, and Edgefield, S.C., that sells the discount food.

Earlier this month, the ministry announced it would suspend sales for September and would consider a reorganization, but made no mention of closing.

O’Bryant said the decision to stop selling the boxes for even one month left many in her church and community without affordable food.

“People were still hoping it’d resume,” she said. “They were hoping and praying. I called every day to their headquarters and was placed on hold for 20 minutes, trying to find out what was happening. I never got an answer.”

At the time, Angel Food blamed the suspension on rising food and fuel prices, along with growing numbers of customers who were unable to afford the boxes. In four years, orders across the country decreased from 550,000 boxes a month to 125,000 boxes a month, according to Angel Food.

Several years ago, 100 people or more would come to Second Providence to buy boxes, O’Bryant said. In recent years, the number has been closer to 40 or 50.

“The boxes used to cost $21, then $25, until they went up to $35,” she said. “Some months people could afford it; some months they couldn’t.”

Even as prices crept up, Betty Moore said food purchased through Angel Food was the best deal around.

“I am home-bound. I’m in a walker. Without Angel Food, I would starve,” said Moore, 77, of North Augusta, who had a box of Angel Food Ministries groceries delivered once a month. “I’m really sick over this. It’s been a blow to everybody. We want it back. We really do.”

Angel Food was able to sell food cheaply because it bought in bulk from national suppliers. It was Moore’s main source of food for the month.

“I have a friend who is going to take me to the store, but I’ll have to spend $100 at the store to get what I got from Angel Food,” she said. “With their boxes, you’ve got roast, steak, pork chops, chicken, beans, rice and every vegetable you can think of. You get cereal, oatmeal, fruit. It’s a blessing. Angel Food is a real blessing.”

Angel Food was started in 1994 by pastors Joe and Linda Wingo. The organization’s practices made headlines in 2009, when the FBI raided its offices.

No charges were filed, but board members and others filed a lawsuit accusing the leadership of using the ministry to make money. The Wingos and their two sons on staff were making $500,000 a year.

The suit was settled and new leadership promised financial transparency.

Two years later, the closing of the ministry not only affects those who purchased the food, but also the churches that participated. For every box sold, churches received $1. Angel Food reports that it returned about $24 million to its partners over the years.

“It’s a shame it has to end,” O’Bryant said. “It’s the kind of program that if I had to pick only one ministry to do, that would be the one. It has that sort of impact.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Comments (20) Add comment
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rmwardsr
525
Points
rmwardsr 09/21/11 - 05:47 pm
0
0
That is what happens when

That is what happens when greed takes over. The landscape is strewn with ministers who started out with good intentions, but then saw the amount of money being generated by their ministerial efforts, and lost sight of their mission for personal gain. They want you to give your money to the Lord, but give you their address to send it to.

billyjones1949
1
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billyjones1949 09/21/11 - 10:12 pm
0
0
Why would anyone ever send

Why would anyone ever send any money to a televanglist. Nothing but ripoffs.

nothin2show4it
120
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nothin2show4it 09/22/11 - 03:58 am
0
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First billy, these people
Unpublished

First billy, these people were not televangelist. They were hard working people that put out over 500,000 boxes of food a month. Secondly these were full time jobs for all 4 people. The sons are grown and living on their own. All 4 made a combined salary of $500,000.00. That is $125,000.00 a piece. It may be a little on the high side but it isn't ripping people off. Many members of their church went out to buy refrigerated box trucks to deliver the product all over Georgia and they could make $2.00 per box. Their trucks carried 400 boxes of food. When the economy got rough they had difficulty making their truck payments and they turned and attacked the leadership and got the FBI involved. I never made a dime but supported the ministry even with the Wingo's making the money they made. They are good people. It will sorely be missed.

Cassandra Harris
-3
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Cassandra Harris 09/22/11 - 07:42 am
0
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hmmm.....$125,000 not much

hmmm.....$125,000 not much money to make a piece? Really? You mean they couldn't have gotten by running a charity with, oh say, $60K a piece?

Yeah, they got greedy. Their hearts may have been in the right place when they first started, but they got the golden eye and now the ministry has completely ended. I will now edit the rest of my thoughts so Sean doesn't have to pull my post.

billyjones1949
1
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billyjones1949 09/22/11 - 08:14 am
0
0
He will do that Cassandra if

He will do that Cassandra if he doesn't agree with you. Nothin2show4it that was just a comment I made about the TV perachers who get on the air and offer the prayer cloth, healing by touching on the head and all sort of things to get your money. The work people into a frenzie and they live in luxury off your hard earned money. They should be ashamed and people should be smarter.

TrukinRanger
1748
Points
TrukinRanger 09/22/11 - 08:18 am
0
0
wow, $125,000 each for a
Unpublished

wow, $125,000 each for a charity is ridiculous. A low level salaried manager at large retailers are lucky to make mid 30's. For a charity, they shouldn't have made anything over $35k EACH. It's a charity!!!! I'm sure that their salaries were tax free as well since it's a "ministry". These people are doing these type things under the pretense of helping others out with the intention of getting a hefty tax free paycheck.

Chillen
17
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Chillen 09/22/11 - 08:24 am
0
0
How could anyone in America

How could anyone in America be hungry & in need of discounted food? They get their food stamps every single month (compliments of actual hard working Americans like me).

I like the Michigan welfare plan. Four year lifetime cap on welfare. Haven't heard about this? Don't worry, you will. It goes into effect on October 1st and 12,000+ people will be shifted off the public dole (about time!). Jesse Jackson is running around screaming racism. No surprise there.

Look for 12,000 lazy Michigans to move out of Michigan in October to a neighboring state so they can continue to get their entitlements and so that they don't have to work.

Kelly Jasper
86
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Kelly Jasper 09/22/11 - 09:00 am
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The wording should have been

The wording should have been more clear. Joe Wingo didn't collect a salary his first few years with Angel Food, but by 2006, members of the family were each making $500,000. IRS forms show that between 2005 and 2007, the family received about $2.8 million from the ministry.

InChristLove
22485
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InChristLove 09/22/11 - 11:24 am
0
0
"How could anyone in America

"How could anyone in America be hungry & in need of discounted food? " Chillen, there are a lot of low income and elderly families not on welfare that participated in this program. It was a good program that helped a lot of people. I know because my family used this program when my spouse had a heart attack and we were struggling on one income. It helped feed my family for several months. It just sad when something this beneficial has to be ruined by greed.

Gary In Missouri
0
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Gary In Missouri 09/22/11 - 01:06 pm
0
0
It is unfortunate that this

It is unfortunate that this business has failed. So many people beyond your Georgia borders depend on AFM for basic sustenance. I was the Director of the only Host Site in our small Missouri City. There are some families that will not have food on the table because Angel Food has failed.

As for the salaries of the management...I would say that Capitalism is at work here. I am not privileged to the figures of amounts DONATED to the ministry, but for every customer out here, we always got what we paid for and more. The quality was above the store brands sold locally, the produce fresher and better tasting than local grocery store produce. We are sad to lose this. But if the management of GM makes well above 500k, and no one questions that salary, why question the Wingo's Salary? AFM received no bailout.

I understand that there is much to this not included in this article. It appears some bad decisions were made and the funding of personal expenses was paid from ministry funds. That is unforgivable.

Too bad. Now because of all of this, folks all over the nation are jumping through hoops to find alternatives.

Chillen
17
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Chillen 09/22/11 - 01:24 pm
0
0
inchristlove. Beans and

inchristlove. Beans and rice. Chicken. Grow your own veggies. Raise chickens for eggs. That's how it can be done cheaply. Its just a matter of priorities. Less bling and more self sufficiency and self reliance.

Now, I'm not saying a helping hand should not be offered from time to time, things happen (heck it will probably happen to me someday!) but MANY make it a lifestyle. Not cool.

And the $200K salaries of these folks is not cool either. I had a friend in Atlanta who worked with a guy who makes 1/2 million a year running thrift shop charities. That's why I have a problem giving to charities. Well, that and the U.S. govt has basically taken over as the worlds largest charity organization so I tend to feel that I'm already doing more than my part with the oodles of taxes I pay.

Glockcarryingmom
0
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Glockcarryingmom 09/22/11 - 02:25 pm
0
0
Dear Cillen, You have a right

Dear Cillen, You have a right to your own opinion but what you dont know is I with my kids helped hand out boxes of food to people that had paid for the boxes and some that could not afford the boxes. Some of these people were young, elder, single parents, or just single period down on their luck. We turned no one down. When the plants started closing over here in Aiken county times are tough and we stick together and feed our own. I know people that have been out of work for over two years now and it is not because they are not looking it's because there are no jobs here or anywhere else, so yes they are on food stamps because they have to feed their kids and alot of them do grow gardens, raise cows for milk and meat along with pigs and chickens for meat and eggs. So you are ill informed about what life is like with out a job and not being able to feed your family. Especially when you are worrying about how you are going to pay you light bill and your mortage for the month. You dont like giving to charities well there are alot of charities out there that could use your help like Community Ministy there web site is cmona.org and another one is catholic charities. They are always in need of help if not money they take donations of any kind. I hope you see people in a different light here in the CSRA because everyone is trying and we all try to take care of our. God Bless You!

InChristLove
22485
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InChristLove 09/22/11 - 03:08 pm
0
0
Chillen, not everyone is able

Chillen, not everyone is able to grow their own food and raise their own chickens....last time I check, cows, pigs and chickens were allowed in my neighborhood and don't believe I have enough land for a nice little garden of potatos, tomatos, beans, corn, squash, and carrotts. As for eggs, fresh eggs are excellent but by the time you pay for the feed...chickens don't come free or cheap to raise either. As I stated, some of the people who were helped by this ministry were elderly.

Chillen
17
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Chillen 09/22/11 - 06:54 pm
0
0
Where are their families?

Where are their families? Don't they care about them?

Iwannakno
1533
Points
Iwannakno 09/22/11 - 07:01 pm
0
0
I disagree with the quality.
Unpublished

I disagree with the quality. I participated twice. The quality the first time was terrible and the second time I was given an alternate to what I purchased. I decided to support a different charity.

augusta citizen
10002
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augusta citizen 09/22/11 - 07:33 pm
0
0
Chickens do need feed, but it

Chickens do need feed, but it is pretty inexpensive at Tractor Supply and some of the Food Lions sell it. Most neighborhoods and areas do allow for backyard chickens, though not for cows and pigs, which are considered lifestock as opposed to poultry. Chickens also love table scraps, any vegetation actually. I feed mine the weeds I pull and wilted lettuce, apple and pear peels, strawberry hulls, etc. They go crazy for these foods. Chickens only cost $2.00 to 3.00 each, so they are a deal, just don't get roosters in a neighborhood, they are loud, hens just cackle a bit. A hen will lay eggs for a couple of years, then they can be slaughtered and dressed out for meat. Rabbits are inexpensive and easy to grow and dress out as well. A small garden will actually yield a good amount of food. My garden is very small, but make sure and plant vegetables that do well in your area. You can be awash in squash, zucchini and okra before you know it. Berry bushes and fruit trees do well here too. Too many Americans only know how to garden lawns these days. Many people mingle pepper and tomato plants in with their flower beds and as long as you don't apply chemicals this works great for utilizing your space.

augusta citizen
10002
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augusta citizen 09/22/11 - 07:39 pm
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0
Are all comments now being

Are all comments now being held for approval?

Willow Bailey
20605
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Willow Bailey 09/22/11 - 07:40 pm
0
0
Though many benefited, this

Though many benefited, this was a business and not a ministry and shall receive no heavenly rewards. Sad that people like this make legitimate charities suffer.

augusta citizen
10002
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augusta citizen 09/22/11 - 07:42 pm
0
0
I made a comment a little

I made a comment a little while ago on this same article, no links, no cut/paste, for the first time a sentence came up that my comment was being held. Is this a new thing? I just commented again at 8:39 and this didn't happen.

nothin2show4it
120
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nothin2show4it 09/22/11 - 07:50 pm
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0
I don't understand why people
Unpublished

I don't understand why people get ben out of shape when people in ministry make good money. What is it, they don't deserve to? I knew a man who got all bent out of shape because a older pastor bought a home, paid cash for it, then rented it out for retirement income. I tried to reason with the man and the best argument he came up with was that the pastor took a vow of poverty. I was astonished by his stupidity. Catholic priests used to take a vow of poverty, they were also taken care of completely by the church too. Folks people in ministry have a right to make good money too. How many pastors do you know that have a good retirement plan or a 401K or even better than that good medical insurance? I am talking outside of a mainline denomination church. Most don't have any and people expect them to live on peanuts.

augusta citizen
10002
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augusta citizen 09/22/11 - 07:56 pm
0
0
I am baffled at my comment

I am baffled at my comment being held. It was not extremely long, had no links and was very informational about raising chickens and gardens. It didn't address any other posters, shouldn't offend anyone. I have made 2 comments since (before this one) that have posted. Willow Bailey and nothin2show4it have had comments posted in that time as well. Again, I don't understand why it isn't visible, hope it wasn't a waste of time typing it.

nothin2show4it
120
Points
nothin2show4it 09/22/11 - 08:32 pm
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0
I saw it. It was pulled.
Unpublished

I saw it. It was pulled. Maybe not. I just saw the other one I was thinking was augusta citizens.

Willow Bailey
20605
Points
Willow Bailey 09/22/11 - 09:48 pm
0
0
augusta citizen, sometimes

augusta citizen, sometimes there is some word that the spam filter reacts to. I've had it happen as well. Most of the time it is when I am talking about something that sounds like I may be promoting a business or product. You can email Sean and ask him to "free your post". He'll look at it and usually let it go.

Willow Bailey
20605
Points
Willow Bailey 09/22/11 - 09:56 pm
0
0
nothin2show4it, if you were

nothin2show4it, if you were including my comment, I am not bent out of shape by a minister making a salary reflective of his duties and education. I do not want any pastor or his family not to have all of their needs met and some of their desires. I also believe it is a minister/pastor's duty to model good stewardship. In this case, the "ministers" of food to the needy allowed their salaries to collapse the mission and people have been hurt by it.

Iwannakno
1533
Points
Iwannakno 09/22/11 - 10:52 pm
0
0
Yeah they take vows not to
Unpublished

Yeah they take vows not to touch children too....we see how well that has worked out...

nothin2show4it
120
Points
nothin2show4it 09/23/11 - 12:09 pm
0
0
Iwannakno, you know it is
Unpublished

Iwannakno, you know it is easy to point fingers because ministers are high profile targets for the public but molestation is a despicable act that occurs throughout all walks in life not just ministers. We hear about it more with ministers because it is good business for the news media. I hate it but it is a brutal fact. Don't bet me wrong, I support ministers who commit crimes. They should be in prison just like the rest of the people that commit this kind of crime. Your statement looks like you would like to throw out the baby with the bathwater.

nothin2show4it
120
Points
nothin2show4it 09/23/11 - 12:15 pm
0
0
Willow if you will remember
Unpublished

Willow if you will remember there was an issue with Angel Food a while back and the article said that the Wingo's resigned their positions with the ministry. In reality we really don't know what actually caused the demise of Angel Food. I would suggest that and poor economy was the number 1 reason. A lot of their food was donated to them as overages. As the economy weakened I am sure the donations dried up. Angel Food also had this massive storage facility they were paying for but I am pretty sure the Wingo's have been out of the picture for at least a year. You know what they say, "hind site is 20-20."

InChristLove
22485
Points
InChristLove 09/23/11 - 01:01 pm
0
0
"Though many benefited, this

"Though many benefited, this was a business and not a ministry and shall receive no heavenly rewards. Sad that people like this make legitimate charities suffer"

Willow, I'm sorry but I will have to disagree with you on this statement. Angel Food Ministries in my opinion is/was a ministry. For every Unit (box) they sold one dollar was contributed to the host site and over 12 million dollars have been contributed to benevolence funds. I would most definitely say that is a ministry since church benevolence funds are use to help families in the community. The community has not only lost the availablity of purchasing low cost food but also the money lost in the benevolence funds to help stuggling families.

Iwannakno
1533
Points
Iwannakno 09/23/11 - 09:34 pm
0
0
No, when average citizens
Unpublished

No, when average citizens molest children, their churches don't hide it for years then pay millions to cover it up and still allow these priests to remain in the church.

Cassandra Harris
-3
Points
Cassandra Harris 09/23/11 - 11:55 pm
0
0
Yep, it was a ministry all

Yep, it was a ministry all right, tax free and about $2M profits to be had by those in charge. Sounds about right.

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