After Angel Food Ministries shut down in September, Jennifer Bacon didn’t know what she would do without the box of discount food she received from the organization each month.
“It was kind of a scramble,” she said.
After 17 years in business, Angel Food Ministries, based in Monroe, Ga., closed because of financial and legal difficulties. Thousands of local families used the service, which operated through more than 35 churches in Augusta; Evans; Thomson; Hephzibah; Aiken; and Edgefield, S.C.
Bacon; her 8-year-old son, Randall; and her husband, Phillip, receive food stamps and have been struggling since her husband lost his job a few months ago. Last month, she heard about Hungry No More, an organization trying to make up for Angel Food’s absence.
Hungry No More was started in May by a group led by Kay Benitez. Benitez regularly volunteers at Golden Harvest Food Bank in Augusta and said that after Angel Food closed, the organization saw demand skyrocket for food and necessities. Even more were quietly trying to make do without assistance, she said.
“We started to ask about who was going to pick up the slack, and we weren’t comfortable with the answers we were getting,” she said.
Bacon said having the box of discounted food will make a big difference to her family.
“We’ve been having a lot of peanut butter sandwiches,” she said. “We’re excited about this.”
A board of directors helps Benitez with organizing and distributing the food, and Chairwoman Donna Joyner said Benitez didn’t have to ask twice to get people involved.
“We knew she was going to make this happen,” Joyner said. “She does not know how to fail.”
Hungry No More participates in Supreme Outreach, a discount food program based in Braselton, Ga. It is the nonprofit arm of Supreme Sales and Marketing, a protein trading company that buys and sells pork, poultry, beef, fish and other foods. It sells boxes of food at cost through a large number of charities.
Boxes cost between $28 and $46 and are packed with chicken breasts, tilapia fillets, frozen mixed vegetables and other foods.
“A lot of the people we’re helping, they don’t even know how to grocery shop,” Joyner said. “Getting a box like this helps them because they see what they should be buying to stretch their dollar even further.”
Benitez said she hopes the organization can offer classes soon to teach people how to cook, freeze and store the food in the boxes. If you don’t know how to cook chicken breast correctly and safely, she said, the protein is of no use to you. The group is looking for volunteers to teach classes.
“We just want to reach as many people as we can,” Benitez said.
Orders have grown a little bit each month since May, and 33 orders for boxes came in for August.
Golden Harvest Executive Director Travis McNeal said organizations such as Hungry No More have been essential in filling the gaps left by Angel Food.
“We felt the effects of them closing,” he said. “There’s been a whole lot more need out there because so many people relied on them as a supplemental food source.”
The best way to help, he said, is to donate money to organizations such as Golden Harvest and Hungry No More. Golden Harvest can turn a $1 donation into $5 of food to give away, he said.
Benitez and Joyner said buying boxes is a good way to help because a portion of the sale price goes back into the organization to pay for boxes for people who can’t afford them.
Karen Schultz ordered her first box in August, and she
said the value allows her to save money for other bills. She earns a living by selling books online, and in recent years business has not been as
steady as she needs it to be.
“When you get to a point in your life where you’re having to look for assistance, it’s a hard to make that transition,” she said. “This is awesome; I can’t even believe the value.”
The best part of the food boxes, Joyner says, is that there is no application process or inspection required for the help. A Christian, she said she believes it’s the way Jesus would want service efforts to be run.
“He didn’t ask for applications,” she said.