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Area churches take a wide variety of approaches to lessening impact of increasing food prices

WILLMAR -- You know what they say about an apple a day. But that health benefit only applies to those who can afford an apple a day.

For those who cannot, Diana Albin and Harvest Community Church of Willmar suggest they take a look at the fresh fruit and veggie box available through Angel Food Ministries for half its retail price this September.

And that's just the icing on the cake, so to speak.

Harvest and Albin are in their sixth month of fighting hunger pains with the help of Angel Food Ministries.

No guilt trips, no strings attached and no qualifications, Albin said.

Angel Food Ministries is a nonprofit, non-denominational organization dedicated to providing food relief in communities throughout the United States.

Local coordinator Albin said "it's about making ends meet."

By purchasing directly from manufacturers in bulk, cutting out the usual mark up and utilizing volunteer manpower for widespread distribution, food is reaching dinner tables across the country at massive discounts.

"They get the good deals and pass them on," Albin said. "We're not dealing with anyone who's out to make a buck. We just want to help."

Angel's regular boxes of food go for $30 and generally assist in feeding a family of four for one week, or a single person for almost a month, with an average retail value of $65 to $75.

Senior boxes have been launched for September, which cost $25 and contain 10 fully cooked, individual meals that are low in fat and nutritionally balanced. Although they're great for senior citizens, Albin said anyone can purchase a senior box. "They're also good for college students or single people, and make for fast lunches at work."

Payments must be pre-made in cash or money order; food stamps are accepted.

So far, several hundred local families have elected to take advantage of Angel Food's services with 96 new customers this month alone.

An example of a September senior box meal is chicken cacciatore quarter with creamy rosemary red potatoes, Italian green beans and diced peaches for dessert. Menus vary from month to month to offer variety for consumers.

Albin says the taste factor of Angel Food is truly top notch. "I didn't think anyone could beat my homemade meatloaf," she joked, "but they've gone and done it!"

One question Albin frequently hears is, "I'm strapped for cash but I'm not destitute. If I order food, will I be taking from someone else who really needs it?"

Albin says absolutely not. "There is no limit to how much we can order each month," she said. "No one will go without."

The public is invited to attend a distribution day to check out the food quality firsthand, and can place orders on the spot for the following month.

Distribution takes place in the hospitality hall at Harvest Community Church from 5 to 7 p.m., usually on the fourth Saturday of the month. For more information, call Diana at 320-214-1928 or visit