Residents buy cheaper groceries through charity

By William Thompson: Freedom Newspapers

About 200 Portales residents went to First Baptist Church on Saturday to take advantage of a new program that provides low-cost groceries.

The Angel Food Ministries, a Georgia-based non-profit organization, reports on its Web site the average retail value of the groceries is about $50 per box. The charity sells the boxes for $25. Melissa Lamb, Jeannie Kircher and Rebekah Padilla helped set up the Portales host site of Angel Food Ministries.

“I heard about the program from my sister in Amarillo,” Kircher said, “and so we decided to try it here.”

Lamb said Angel Food Ministries buy the groceries in bulk and ship them by truck from a warehouse in Georgia.

“A semi took the food to Clovis and then about 20 volunteers drove from Portales to Clovis to pick up the food and bring it back here,” Lamb said. “Most of the volunteers are from First Baptist Church or Western Essential Ministries.”

A small Christian tract is placed in each box of food. Lamb said everybody is eligible to purchase boxes of food. Saturday was the first monthly food distribution day in Portales.

Lamb said volunteers have been spreading news of the program by word of mouth and fliers, and more than half of those who purchased boxes so far have no affiliation with First Baptist Church.

Many of those who picked up boxes Saturday described themselves as “middle class” and said they were just happy to get a good deal on groceries.

Janie Hardin, a single mom, said she liked the steak special she was able to purchase.

“You get 5 pounds of New York Strip steaks for $18,” Hardin said. “It’s just a good deal.”

Brenda Fuselier said the cheaper groceries are welcome.

“We bought one box for my brother and one for my uncle,” Fuselier said. “We’re helping out my brother, and my uncle has no income.”

Angel Food Ministries, which is non-denominational, started in Georgia in 1994 after 34 families got together to buy food in bulk. The program is now active in 17 states, according to the program’s Web site.

A box of food contains: a package of chicken nuggets, four hamburger steaks, four pork chops, a pound and a half of bacon, a dozen eggs, two pounds of French fries, five bagels, two pounds of onions, four apples, five bananas and a pie.

Meat specials are offered monthly at an additional cost.

Fast facts
• Signup: March 5 and March 12, 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the main building of First Baptist Church and from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the church’s fellowship hall.
• How to pay: Cash or food stamps
• On the Web: