Spring Hill, Florida - Angel Food Ministries had been helping people across the country and in the Tampa Bay area slash their grocery bills by about 50 percent, but it recently shut down. Now, a local church has found a different company that's supposed to offer the same savings.
As Charles and Cathy Raptis of Spring Hill cooked in their kitchen Saturday morning, they say they can't say enough about Angel Food Ministries.
Cathy says, "Oh, that was wonderful!"
Charles, adds, "It was great."
They say the food program was a godsend. It was open to anyone regardless of their income. Angel Food Ministries was a national, non-profit, non-denominational organization. It had been around since 1994 and it allowed customers to pre-order food at a deep discount. Customers would then pick up the food at a local distribution site.
Cathy says, "They were much cheaper than the stores and they would last us a month because it was only the two of us."
Angel Food Ministries served 45 states, including Florida, and about 800 people here in the Tampa Bay area were customers. But the ministry closed down in September, leaving people like Cathy and Charles on their own. The couple is on a fixed income. They live on their Social Security checks. They say they applied for food stamps, but were told they bring in $6 more a month more than they're allowed to qualify.
Cathy says, "We just went to the food pantries and got whatever they gave us. That's what we lived on."
Pastor Tom Almond's church in Hudson, Nature Coast Family Fellowship Church, had been one of several distribution sites for Angel Food Ministries. He says while the economy forced the non-profit to shut down, they've managed to find a similar program through a new company. He says the company is different from Angel Food Ministries because they've figured out a way to cut down on logistical costs.
Almond says, "We're going right from the farmer, right to the distribution site, to the host sight." He says there's no middle man.
He adds, "We're real excited about the new program that has come out. It's a brand new company coming into Florida. They're in Kenton, Ohio and Florida. It's called Gaballi Foods."
While he says it basically works the same way as Angel Food Ministry's program, the cutoff date to preorder boxes of food online or by phone from Gaballi for the month of November is fast approaching. Food boxes range from 20 dollars to 35 dollars and Gaballi Foods is offering Thanksgiving boxes as well. The deadline to preorder food is November 13, at 8 p.m.
Families pick up their boxes at their designated host site. The next date for pickup is Saturday, November 19 from 8 a.m. until 11 a.m.
Click here and enter your zip code for a look at pickup sites near your home.
Pastor Almond says,"You won't know the difference whether you're purchasing from Gaballi Foods or you're purchasing from one of the big box stores."
Almond says they are also looking for churches and non-profit organizations to sign up to become host sites where customers in the Tampa Bay area can pick up food. He says they're also putting people to work. "We're hiring people for distribution. We're hiring truck drivers, so we're going to be putting a little bit back into the economy."
For more information on Gaballi Foods, call 785 422 2554 or click here.