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Angel Food Ministries shuts down, strains local food pantries and churches

Angel Food Ministries

For $30, Angel Food Ministries provided a box with enough food to feed a family of four for a week. In the CSRA, those families are still in need, but now they're wondering where they'll go for help. (WRDW-TV / Sept. 22, 2011)

News 12 at 6 o'clock / Thursday, Sept. 22, 2011

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- The national nonprofit Angel Food Ministries just announced it's closing its doors. For 17 years, the group sold boxes of food at a discounted price to needy families.

A lot of people in our area depend on Angel Food boxes to get by every month. The shut-down is already putting a strain on local churches that use the service.

For $30, Angel Food Ministries provided a box with enough food to feed a family of four for a week. In the CSRA, those families are still in need, but now they're wondering where they'll go for help.

Sheila Harris listens to a series of voicemails on her phone. These are just three of hundreds she sorts through every week, all from families in our area who need food.

Harris helps run HPSO, "Helping People Start Over," a nonprofit at New Life Christian Center that helps families with food, clothes and job searching.

"Everybody that comes in here has an emergency," she said.

Their donations go to buy boxes of food through Angel Food Ministries. New Life, for example, donates enough for 11 boxes each month. Now, they can't.

"With that service being cut, those 11 boxes that could serve maybe 20 families ... is no more."

Harris says at first the services were only stopped for the month of September. But now, the affordable food program is canceled altogether.

On the other side of the river, Karen Perry says ACTS, a Christian service group of "Aiken Churches Together Serving," will also feel the loss of Angel Food Ministries. They run a food pantry from their Park Street location, but refer any customers to Angel Food if they can afford it.

"Unfortunately, with Angel Food Ministries closing down and there not being another resource like that out there, it puts an even greater burden on pantries, not just ACTS, but other pantries in the community."

She says ACTS helps anywhere from 600 to 1,000 new clients every month in various capacities.

Representatives at Golden Harvest Food Bank agree -- they expect to see more clients now that AFM services are not an option for local families in need.

Harris says they will still give out as much food as they can but with Angel Foods gone, many people will need to apply for food stamps.

"Where some people are shy about applying for that type of assistance, now they may not have another resource. They may have to do that."

Back a New Life church, the food freezers are almost empty. Harris looks through the final few boxes of frozen vegetables and meats.

"We may be able to serve maybe 12 more families, hopefully," she said.

They served 12 families Thursday morning alone. The remaining food will likely be gone before the weekend.

"It's just too much," Harris said. "To see how many people are going to go without and not be able to provide for them."

She says they'll be putting out barrels for non-perishable food donations at their location at 3336 Wrightsboro Rd., Building 500. Their phone number is (706) 738-2526.

For Aiken donors, contact ACTS at (803) 649-3800. Their offices are at 340 Park Ave., SW in the City of Aiken.


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