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Food for everyone: Janesville church starts new ministry

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Catherine W. Idzerda
October 8, 2009
— It’s a long way from middle class prosperity to grinding poverty.

Living between those two extremes presents challenges, too.


A new ministry at Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church, Janesville, hopes to help people in the community struggling with reduced incomes or no income at all.


It’s called “Angel Food Ministry,” and it’s part of a national program that helps people of all income levels keep food on the table for their families.


“The nice thing about it is that everyone is eligible,” said Debbie Ryman, evangelism chairwoman for the church.


Many people don’t quality food stamps or services from food pantries. Or, they might feel that their need is not desperate enough to use such services.


“We’re targeting people who are used to providing for their families who are finding it tough to make ends meet,” said the Rev. Cory Rajek of Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church. “People can still keep their dignity—think of it as buying groceries on sale.”


In other words, it’s an outreach to the whole community.


Angel Food Ministry allows people to buy a box of food designed to feed a family of four at a highly discounted rate.


For example, a recent $30 box included two bags of frozen mixed vegetables, 2-pound bag of apples, a dozen eggs, ham steaks, fish sticks, pasta, pasta sauce, chicken tenders, ground beef, a chicken stir fry skillets, tortillas, shelf stable milk, steak fajita strips, 1.5 pounds of New York strip steaks and desserts.


In addition, people can buy an “allergen-free” box, a fresh fruit and vegetable box, assorted meat boxes or senior/convenience meals that are prepackaged and ready to cook.


“We’re not trying to compete with ECHO or Share,” said Bruce Vermillion, one of the site directors. “In fact, our church supports ECHO.”


ECHO is the local church-supported food pantry and social services agency.


Share is a volunteer-run, nonprofit, food- buying club. It also is open to everyone.


The church picked the Angel Food Ministry because of the “ministry aspect” of the effort.


Each box will include a magazine from Angel Food Ministry, a pamphlet from the church and a listing of church events.


Nationally, Angel Food Ministries reaches 500,000 people a month from 4,500 sites.


Earlier this year, the organizations reputation took a serious hit when the FBI raided ministry offices near Atlanta.


Food distribution was not disrupted.


Organizers at Mt. Calvary were aware of the problem.


Rajak, who has talked to other pastors about the program, commented, “There are bad apples in every bunch.”


It’s important to keep in mind the good the organization continues to do throughout the country, Rajak said.


Angel Food Ministries is undergoing a forensic audit.


Tom Dorcey, co-site director, recently returned to Janesville from Bowling Green, Ky.


“We have seen the good work Angel Food has done in the south,” Dorcey said.


Dorcey and Vermillion are volunteering at the Angel Food site at St. Bridget’s Catholic Church in Loves Park, Ill., and they’ve been touched by what they’ve seen there.


“The one thing I’m really excited about is that we’ll be able to nourish their bodies and nourish their souls,” Dorcey said. “We’ll have some opportunities to show people how Jesus is working in our lives.”


It won’t be overt evangelism but rather the evangelism of content Christians who are happy to extent a helping hands to others.


TO LEARN MORE

Angel Food Ministry orders will be taken from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday through Wednesday and 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursdays.


Or you can order online at angelfoodministries.com. When you order online, be sure to specify the correct pickup site.

The in-person ordering deadline for Saturday, Oct. 24, pickup is noon Monday, Oct. 12. The online ordering deadline for Monday, Oct. 24, pickup is 11 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 15.


Pickup is from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. at Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church, 2940 Mineral Point Ave., Janesville. Bring a large box or laundry basket if you plan to order the “signature box.”


If you’re interested in the other local food coop, Share, go to sharewi.org or call Ronnie or Delores Thomas at (608) 754-4433. The online order deadline for October pickup for Share is 9 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 11. The in-person ordering deadline for November pickup is Tuesday, Nov. 3.



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