• 50°

New non-profit growing in Polk County

A new non-profit in Polk County is giving residents an opportunity to save money on grocery bills in a bad economy.

Angel Food Ministries (AFM), which&bsp; started in 1994 in Georgia, now offers a way for families in more than 35 states to cut their food costs.

AFM buys food in bulk and sells it at cost through churches and organizations. Ilona Taunton (Angel Food director – Redemption Faith Outreach Center) donates her time to organize the program in Polk County and works with local agencies and businesses and a group of volunteers to take orders and distribute the food. Taunton lives in Mill Spring.

Angel Food Ministries offers different menu options every month that include meat, fresh fruits and vegetables, eggs, milk and even a dessert. The most popular purchase is a Signature Box which includes $60-70 worth of food for $30. It is expected to feed a family of four for about a week.

Januarys box includes choice beef roast, baby back ribs, split chicken breasts, breaded chicken breast patties, lean ground beef, bratwurst with cheese, frozen carrots, frozen corn, pancakes, dinner rolls, baking potatoes, macaroni and beef dinner entre, milk, eggs and a dessert all for $30. In addition, you can purchase fresh fruit and vegetable boxes, additional meats and seafood (shrimp, flounder with crab stuffing, tilapia fillets and crab cakes). There is no limit on the number of boxes you can purchase and you can pay for your order with cash, debit, credit, EBT (food stamps) or money order. There are no applications or qualifications involved it is open to anyone who wants to save.

Taunton said: Angel Food in Polk County is a community event that pulls a number of people together. It starts with getting the word out through flyers and word of mouth. Ashley Meadows, the Department of Health Services and Highwood Apartments volunteered their facilities to let me take orders and now DSS and Red Cross have joined in.

“Pick-up starts in Spindale where AFM delivers the order and then a team of volunteers takes the order back to Redemption Faith Outreach Center where boxes are packed to prepare for pick-up we currently have five separate pick-ups (four in Rutherford County and one in Polk County).

“Ashley Meadows has been letting us use their office for pick-up, but the program has been growing and we are just about out of space. Starting in February (maybe even January) we will be doing pick-ups at Red Cross on Ward Street in downtown Columbus.

“It is a lot of work, but I have been blessed by incredible volunteers and have truly enjoyed all the families I have gotten to know that use the Angel Food program. Our customers range from people who have good incomes who just want to support the program, to those who use the savings for some of the extras (a vacation, date night, a costly prescription) and those who can finally put enough food on their table to feed their families. The food is great and it has made a real difference in my familys food budget.

Menu flyers can be found online or at Ashley Meadows, Red Cross, Department of Health Services, Thermal Belt Outreach, DSS, Highwood Apartments, Scoops, Second Chance and other agencies and businesses throughout the county. Orders are generally due by the middle of the month and pick-up is usually the third Saturday. In January, orders are due by noon on Friday, January 15 and pick-up will be on Saturday, January 23 (see the six-month schedule in the box on page 3.)

You can order on-line using a debit or credit card by going to Redemption Faith Outreach Centers website (FreeToReign.org Click on Angel Food Ministry) or going to angelfoodministries.com and entering your zip code look for the Ashley Meadows site in Columbus. The menu and website list order locations and times if you will be placing your order in person. You can call 1-888-896-9932 if you have any questions.

You can also order by phone (1-888-896-9932) or in person. The organization accepts cash, credit, debit, EBT (food stamps) or money orders.

Find a new menu on-line or pick one up at: Red Cross, Dept of Health, DSS, Ashley Meadows, Thermal Belt Outreach, Scoops, Second Chance, and other places throughout the area.

Taunton worked in the environmental field for 23 years and helped build the largest environmental analysis company in the country. She held many vice president and director positions in her field and now works part-time consulting.

My mom was from Holland and raised four daughters on her own,” Taunton said. “Though we had nothing, she taught us to give to people and now I have a chance to do that with Angel Food. It helps people help themselves and we get the opportunity to give others a hand-up. Angel Food Ministries donates $1 to our ministry for every box that gets ordered each month and this allows us to put this back into the Polk County Angel Food program and donate boxes to families in need. We also ask for people and businesses to consider donating a box each month. This can be done anonymously, or a card with a name can be put in the box. We have had some families receive boxes from parents in other states who ordered on-line. Others buy a box for themselves and use the savings to purchase another box to donate.

There are many ways you can make a difference in Polk County through Angel Food Ministries. You can volunteer your time (distribute flyers, post a flyer at your business, talk to people, help pack boxes, help at pick-up), donate empty boxes (about the size of a file box), be a customer or donate boxes to families in need.

If you have questions, contact Taunton through e-mail at tauntoni@msn.com or leave a message at 1-888-896-9932.