Angel Food Ministries is a nondenominational organization, based in Monroe, Ga., that provides food relief to more than a half-million families each month in 44 states, including Illinois. It’s open to everyone. You don’t need to belong to a church or fall into a set income bracket. There are no minimums, limits, applications or qualifications.

When Joyce Workman was headed to Decatur for a TV interview about food savings available through the nonprofit bulk-buyer Angel Food Ministries, she wanted to show the amount of food that customers get in a standard $30 box. So she stopped at a supermarket and bought identical items, some on sale. Her total: $62.


“With the economy like it is, people need this more than ever,” said the director of the program run through Springfield First Church of the Nazarene, one of about 20 area churches that host the nationwide ministry.


Angel Food Ministries is a nondenominational organization, based in Monroe, Ga., that provides food relief to more than a half-million families each month in 44 states, including Illinois. It’s open to everyone. You don’t need to belong to a church or fall into a set income bracket. There are no minimums, limits, applications or qualifications.


“It’s like a cooperative buying program,” said Workman.


Each month, Angel Food offers several low-cost boxes of fresh and frozen food. Customers pay when they place an order and then pick up the food when it comes in. Items are supermarket quality; none are damaged, out-of-date, dented, mislabeled or going bad.


The contents of the boxes varies each month.


In January, the $30 Signature Box — Workman says it’s the most popular – includes nearly 10 pounds of beef roast, ground beef, baby-back ribs, chicken breasts, chicken patties and bratwurst. In addition, there’s 1 pound of frozen carrots, 1 pound of frozen corn, 2 pounds of prepared macaroni and beef entrée, eight buttermilk pancakes, 10 dinner rolls, 3 pounds of potatoes, a dozen eggs, a box of shelf-stable milk and a dessert item.


The $28 Senior Box has 10 heat-and-eat meals, each one nutritionally balanced with the needs of senior citizens in mind. For example, this month’s box includes chicken and noodles with corn and brussels sprouts; Salisbury steak and gravy with cauliflower and peas and carrots; and meat lasagna with green beans and cauliflower. Desserts are included.


For people with food allergies, there’s the Allergen-Free Box for $23. It has 5 pounds of frozen foods made without peanuts, soybeans, milk, eggs, fish, crustaceans, tree nuts or gluten. This month’s box includes 1 pound each of breaded meats: chicken breast fillets, chicken nuggets, cubed steak, chicken wings and chicken tenders.


“So many people are happy to get this one,” said Workman. “One family in our church has a daughter with allergies. Her mom said it’s so nice to be able to have the girl’s friends over and serve them all chicken nuggets.”


To find a convenient host site, go to www.angelfoodministries.com. Click on “find a local site,” enter a zip code or city and your choices will pop up. Each site has different ordering and pickup times. Monthly menus are online. Angel Food Ministries participates in the U.S. food stamp program and accepts Link cards.


At First Church of the Nazarene, orders are taken online, or in person from 5 to 8 p.m. Wednesdays at the church, 5200 S. Sixth Street Road. Pickup is usually from 11 a.m. to noon on the third Saturday of the month.


If you don’t have a computer, call Workman at the church — 529-6771 – or come by on Wednesday evenings. You can order there or Workman will refer you to other participating organizations that are near your home.


First Church of the Nazarene has been involved in Angel Food Ministries for seven months.


“We’ve been focusing on what God wants us to do as a church and one is to serve our world. With families affected by the economy, it seemed like the right time,” Workman said.


“I’ve had people in tears,” she added. “They ask, ‘How did I not know about this before?’ ”


 State Journal-Register food editor Kathryn Rem can be reached at (217) 788-1520 or kathryn.rem@sj-r.com.