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Published: Wednesday, 2/20/2008

2 Maumee sites will offer bargain groceries


Starting next month, Maumee will have two sites where groceries can be bought at bargain basement prices.

Cass Road Baptist Church and the Maumee Senior Center will begin selling low-cost food through Angel Food Ministries, a nondenominational organization that has distribution sites in 35 states.

For $30, which must be paid in advance in either food stamps or cash, a box of food items will be available for purchase at the church that would last a family of four about a week.

The items on the March "menu" include top sirloin roast; boneless, skinless chicken breast; breaded chicken breast strips; chicken legs; bologna; ground turkey, and french fries, as well as soup, frozen vegeta-bles, and macaroni and cheese.

The groceries will be sold once a month at the church and senior center, and can be bought by anyone, regardless of his or her income or residency.

Other "specials" can be bought at additional cost. In March, for instance, a five pound box of rib eye steaks sells for $20. Another March special is a 10 pound box of chicken tenders for $18.

The senior center is taking orders now for pickup on March 29. The church will start taking them March 1. The senior center will accept personal checks from booster members and cashier's checks and money orders from the public.

Stefanie Woolford, the senior center's executive director, said the groceries are all high quality.

"I'm ordering it myself. The food is wonderful," she said. "I'm one of those skeptics. What's the catch? So far I haven't seen one."

Ms. Woolford said the Angel Ministries program was requested by some of the center's members who had tried it and were impressed.

"We thought it would be a great service to our seniors, but then we decided to open it to everyone. I think what we're mostly going to see here is seniors, but our center happens to be located close to the South Toledo line, so we may pull in from there," she said.

The church decided to adopt the program while in a "visioning process," explained the Rev. Howard Thompson, its pastor.

"We are sincerely trying to discern what God wants us to do as a church. We feel God wants us to be a blessing to the community. That means using our facility to make a difference in people's lives," Mr. Thompson said. "With gas bills and food prices these days, people need a break. It's reaching into the middle class."

Several groups and churches in Toledo use Angel Food Ministries: Toledo Area Ministries, Central Residents Council, First Apostolic Church, Pilgrim Church, Crosspoint Community Church, and Trinity Church of the Nazarene.

Ms. Woolford and Mr. Thompson said the food sales will be break-even operations for them. Both hope to cover the costs of picking up the food parcels and delivering them to their sites.

Angel Food Ministries is located in Monroe, Ga., and distributes its food to approximately 4,500 "host" sites, according to Bob Boles, its vice president of media and communications.

It can offer food inexpensively by relying on volunteers and not using middlemen.

"We buy directly from food manufacturers like ConAgra [Foods] and Tyson [Foods]. If you look at the way food is normally bought and sold, there are employees and brokers. We use volunteers. It's a wonderful outreach," he explained.

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