Sunday, October 11, 2009

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Angel Food Ministries - A Review

Recently I discovered Angel Food Ministries which is a non-profit, non-denominational, co-op food program designed to help you save on your grocery bill. I had never experienced any kind of co-op program so I didn’t know what to expect. Angel Food Ministries was started in 1994 to help families in need in Monroe, GA suffering due to a plant closing. It has since grown to serve over 500,000 people across 35 states. You don’t have to be economically disadvantaged to participate. This program is for anyone.
The food is purchased in advanced based on orders from customers of Angel Food Ministries allowing them to get co-op pricing. The packages offer both fresh and frozen food as well as canned items and are all “restaurant quality” items. For $30 you can purchase their “signature box” which changes month to month. In August these were the items in my box:

1.5 lbs rib eye boneless steak (4 steaks)-frozen
1 dozen medium white eggs
3 lbs bone-in split chicken breasts with water and sodium phosphate added (frozen)
1 lb long grain white rice
1.6 lb lemon loaf cake (6 slices) -frozen
1 head of iceberg lettuce
2 lbs of sweet potatoes
1 quart shelf stable 2% milk
16 oz frozen baby lima beans
16 oz frozen corn
1 lb fish sticks -frozen
24 oz chicken nuggets -frozen
32 oz macaroni and beef dinner entrée-frozen
1 lb 80/20 ground beef -frozen
16 oz can pork and beans

This package should provide enough food to assist a family of four for a week or a senior citizen for a month. You can also purchase other packages like the Allergen Free Box which holds 5 lbs of frozen meats free of top allergens like peanuts, eggs, soy, etc. This month there is a special holiday box for Thanksgiving available.
Though not every location has online ordering, I was able to place my order on-line quickly. Payment can be by debit or credit card when ordering online. They also take cash, checks, money orders, vouchers, EBT cards and food stamps if ordering by phone or in person. You will pay a $1 fee when ordering online. Once the order for my “signature box” was submitted I received an email confirmation with directions on where to pick it up etc.

When pick-up day came, it was pouring rain and miserably cold. I was cheerfully greeted by an Angel Food volunteer who asked for my name and offered me coffee. Once my order was confirmed, another volunteer told me she would be collecting my order for me and would meet me at the door. The fact that I didn’t have to do the “shopping” myself was great. As soon as my order was double checked, another volunteer told me if I pulled my car up to the door he would put it in the car for me. Well this is service we don’t get in any grocery stores here so I was tickled pink. Based on service alone, Angel Food has the grocery store chains beat!

The overall quality of the food was comparable to grocery store items. The only issue from what I sampled was the head of lettuce was less fresh than I would have liked and my oldest daughter thought the chicken nuggets were intermittently too fatty. The lemon cake was so good my kids asked for more. Although the website says they do purchase “national brands” there were no brand names I recognized.

But the real question is how did the prices compare to grocery store prices? According to the Angel Food Ministries website, their signature box which sells for $30 has a retail value of about $65. At my local Price Chopper I compared their shelf or sale prices to get an idea of whether Angel Food was offering a good value for the money. A few items like the shelf stable milk were difficult to price as that is not an item my store carries. However, based on comparable items and sizes, the total I would spend in Price Chopper for these items was $54.14. Of course this is without coupons and special promotions. If I was shopping for these actual items I would not be purchasing without a coupon or a promotion and any meat I buy would be on manager’s mark down and submitted for a rebate. So can you do better than the $30 for these items? Yes if you are willing to put a little more work into it but a savings of almost 50% is not too bad.
However the price for the family package is definitely a great way to shave some off your grocery bill easily. Especially if you are elderly, disabled or otherwise have a hard time getting to the grocery store or just hate shopping! You are definitely paying for the convenience and you will not necessarily get the national brands you might in the grocery store. However, if you are not brand picky and would rather save on time and take some of the stress out of meal planning, this may be a hot deal for you!
Check out angelfoodministries.com for more infor
mation or for chapters in your area.

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