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Angel Food Ministries cancels September deliveries, suspends refunds

Angel Food Ministries, which in the past has delivered discounted food to as many as 5,000 churches in 43 states, has cancelled September’s deliveries and suspended refunds of pre-payments.

A statement on the ministry’s website reads:

 We regret to inform you that Angel Food Ministries will not be holding a food distribution for the month of September.

Full refunds are now being processed to those who have already placed orders for the September distribution.

Like the thousands of businesses in America that have endured one of the worst recessions in the past 100 years, we too have faced operational and financial challenges. We have every intention to continue offering great food at great prices in the coming months and are considering ways to reorganize or restructure our Ministry.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause to the hundreds of thousands of customers who have come to rely on us every month, to our Host Sites and to the thousands of volunteers who join us in serving God by helping those in need.

Please check this website often for the latest information. Thank you for your understanding and May God Bless.

An answering machine at Angel Food’s Georgia headquarters relayed a similar message. Telephone calls and email messages from Beliefnet requesting a comment from officials have not been returned.

On Saturday, Della Villers, Angel Food’s northeast regional vice president and minister of outreach, wrote an email to her region’s host sites saying that she had lost her job.

“Please keep my family in your prayers as well as I also lost my ministry in AFM and my job,” she wrote. “Self employed and can not collect unemployment, so after 7 years I like many Americans will be looking for work.”

Her email goes on to say that “with the current economical status of the ministry AFM will not be able to send any further credit or refund. Pastor Joe Wingo does not want to give any false hope that he can continue to refund or credit customers now.”

The ministry headquarters is located in a 16,000-square-foot warehouse in Monroe, Ga.

The practice of the program was to buy in bulk and then sell food in family-sized quantities. Food items in the boxes changed from month to month with a variety of meat, vegetables, and fruits – and a price tag between $31 and $51. The boxes could also be purchased with food stamps.

“A lawsuit was filed in 2009 by two board members of the organization, David A. Prather and Craig Atnip,” reports Juliet Seligman of the Mobile, Ala., newspaper the Journal, “who alleged significant misallocation of funds by Joe and Linda Wingo to the tune of $2.7 million. Additionally, the organization owed an outstanding debt to the Department of Agriculture for a $6,613,261 loan. Further, at least four companies formed by the Wingos owed debts to the ministry, and the Wingos owed personal loans.

“In the end, Prather and Atnip agreed to drop the lawsuit, with conditions. The court ordered Angel Food to complete a forensic audit, and company credit cards used by the Wingos were ordered canceled. A jet that Joe Wingo bought, which he then leased back to Angel Food Ministries for a profit of $10,000 monthly, was ordered turned over to the company. Finally, son Andy Wingo was banned from doing business with the organization, and Angel Food was ordered to pay $45,000 for Atnip’s and Prather’s legal fees.”

Jim Gindlesberger, associate pastor of Lakeview Christian Church in Akron, Ohio, oversees the Angel Food Ministries at his church, which has been a host site for three years and serves around 30 people per month through the ministry.

“I was shocked,” he told Jeff Schapiro of the Christian Post, upon learning he wouldn’t be able to distribute food this month. “And then the reality of ‘what do I do next’ sets in, because I’ve got people that placed orders and we have several people that are pretty dependent upon it.”

“This month’s distribution shutdown renews questions concerning the organization’s somewhat murky financial and legal past,” writes Schapiro. ”While some accept that the American economy is to blame, others wonder whether greed among the organization’s top leaders led to this month’s food stoppage.

“AFM is on Ministry Watch’s 2010 list of donor alerts, which is designed to warn donors of charities operating with ‘questionable practices.’” writes Schapiro. ”The watchdog group warns AFM donors of an ongoing FBI investigation, stating that charities ‘do not normally raise the concern of the FBI and to do so should be a red flag for supporters.’

What’s in a box of Angel Food? A recent brochure offered for $30 the following:

.5 lb. Lean Chopped Beef Steaks (5 x 8 oz.)
5 lb. Leg Quarters
2 lb. Chicken and Corn Bread Stuffing Casserole (Ready to Cook)
28 oz. Salisbury Steak Dinner Entrée
1 lb. Boneless Pork Chops (4 x 4 oz.)
1 lb. Corn Dogs (6 ct.)
12 oz. Deli Sliced Ham
5 oz. Chunk Light Tuna in Water
32 oz. French Fries
1 lb. Sweet Corn
15 oz. Musselman’s Apple Sauce
15 oz. Pears
8 oz. Dinner Roll Mix (Makes 8 Nice Rolls)
7.5 oz. Mac ’n Cheese
32 oz. 2% Shelf Stable Milk
Dozen Eggs
Dessert

“At first glance, this is a pretty good deal,” observes the website “The Simple Dollar, “and if your primary concern is getting food on the table at a very low price, this is likely a great option for you.

“However, if you dig a little deeper, some of these options may not be the best value for your dollar. For example, I would be hesitant to feed several of the options on that list to my children on any sort of consistent basis, at least not without some careful inspection of the actual nutrition facts and ingredients of those items (the corn dogs, the “dessert” item which is often something like Twinkies or Moon Pies, etc.)

“Under that perspective, though, if I were to get the box, then throw out a third of the items, I might as well simply go to the grocery store at my own convenience and choose the exact items I want for my $30. Other writers have come to largely the same conclusion – it’s a value on the surface, but the quality of items may not be up to many personal standards.

“I sat down to research how the charity itself worked. What I found sent up a few pretty big red flags for me.

“First of all, the charity is not listed with Charity Navigator, an impartial service that evaluates charities in terms of how they manage themselves internally and how much of their revenue actually goes towards charitable work.

“Second, the charity is being investigated by the FBI for reasons that are not being made clear by either the charity or the FBI.

“Perhaps the biggest red flag, however, comes from MinistryWatch, a watchdog group for Christian-affiliated charities. It issued a “donor watch” for Angel Food Ministries, stating the following:

“Angel Food Ministries is marketing to help individuals that are on the low economic side of the scale and in ‘need;’ however, the leadership for the organization has higher salaries than the norm. In addition, the higher salaries consist of the leadership of individuals that are related. This is just for the known year of 2006, it is unknown of the more current years.

       Wesley J. Wingo: $588,529
       Linda Wingo: $544,043
       Andrew Wingo: $529,014
       Wesley Wingo: $454,673
       L.M. Wingo: $384,694

“On the ground, Angel Food Ministries provides a good service that many people really need – a lot of food at a very reasonable price at the expense of flexibility,” concluded The Simple Dollar. ”For someone in a poor financial situation, Angel Food Ministries can really be a godsend.

“However, as a broader charity, I would not donate to Angel Food Ministries when there are many highly ethical charities out there to contribute time and effort to. In many larger cities, there are local versions of Angel Food Ministries that you can donate to or be involved with – just ask around in your own community.”



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Comments read comments(23)
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Henry Bacarisse

posted September 16, 2011 at 1:02 pm


Yes, Angel Food Ministries has suspended accepting orders for DELIVERY in September.
NO, Angel Food Ministries has NOT suspended making any refunds on prepaid orders received directly by Angel Food Ministries, Monroe, Georgia.



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    Rob Kerby, Senior Editor

    posted September 16, 2011 at 1:07 pm


    Please cite your source to support your assertion that Angel Foods is making refunds. Nobody is returning our calls or emails at Angel Food Ministries, but we do have the former official who says refunds are not being made and top officials don’t want to raise false hopes.



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granny

posted September 17, 2011 at 9:09 am


just another way for people with money to take advantage of the less fortunate, people who are just trying to make it day by day. The average working family always suffer. will we ever get a break.



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Eleanor Smith

posted September 17, 2011 at 10:12 am


But this program provided a service that cannot or is not being replicated elsewhere. For those who are on a very tight budget, had transportation issues, are elderly or disabled, have child care issues, the value of the food and delivery was indispensable.

Most folks worked and work hard to find food value, the ability to receive fruits and vegetables without going to the store, all in all, the service is not replicated elsewhere, and its lack of operation in September has been terribly detrimental for many.



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Christina

posted September 18, 2011 at 8:12 am


I was a paying customer of AFM for the past year until September, when orders were cancelled. A few thoughts…

1. First of all, the box information you included is not recent; prices for boxes were $22, $35, and $46, and in the past two or three months, have included more frozen veggies and unbreaded meats. While the kids’ box was still largely unhealthy, most of the other boxes were quite healthy and delicious. This comment comes from a woman who prefers to eat organic but can’t afford it due to the economy. On the other hand, if you don’t like frozen spinach and broccoli…

2. As far as I know, there are no local charities like AFM in my area. The food bank only shares food with people at poverty level, but the real problem areas are people above the poverty level but below the “middle class” level (ie. $49,000/year). People in this zone are falling through the cracks in this economy and struggling jut to put food on the table.

3. I would really appreciate an article that also shares alternatives to Angel Food. Many of us who depended on this organization to provide us with food are frustrated and struggling to find alternatives. Right now my only alternative is to eat soups and save meats for specials on the weekends only because we don’t have the income to buy what we would have received in the Angel Food boxes. As far as I know, there are no alternatives in my area.

4. Do I think it’s tragic that the heads of a charity make money off of it? Yes. But at the same time, seeing the Wingos make a ton of money doesn’t bother me nearly as much as watching my family go hungry without Angel Food. There is a less of two evils, and to me, I’d rather have food on my table and know that another family is well-off because they decided to start an organization and were successful with it–than sit and stare at a meager 1/2 cup of tomato soup every night, five days a week, visit every food store in town trying to calculate cheapest prices, or choose between paying my bills and eating. You know? Those of us in the “falling through the cracks” zone have to eat, too, and we’re also hard workers who work long hours and still don’t have enough money for food! (I’m an elementary school teacher, and my disabled husband and I live off of my income; he doesn’t receive any benefits at all because I’m “too rich.”).

5. I’ve read other articles that say that all money is being refunded, but it sounds like it’s taking them a while. I can understand how it might feel. If I’d paid $100 for food, that would have been my food money, and to be stuck waiting for it to return would probably mean we may not be able to eat for the month. I’m praying for those waiting for refunds, that the refunds come quickly. I’m also praying for the Wingo family, the ministry on the whole, and for some way to put food on the table again for our family as well as the thousands of others who relied on AFM.



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tasha

posted September 20, 2011 at 10:23 pm


How do you sign up for next month. Wth mid america



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Rose

posted September 21, 2011 at 2:43 pm


I am shocked and very disappointed to hear of Angel Food’s mishap. I loved it, the food was great and healthy. I liked the fact that I could spend $48.00 on food that actually lasted me two months. It was time for me to order again and was in the process of doing this when I read that there would not be any deliveries for this month. I seriously hope it is for this month only! I also lost my job. The grocery stores are ridiculous in their prices. You come out of these stores paying over $100, but needing to grocery shop again in a week or two. Angel Food lasts me a good two months. The meats were great along with the vegetables. Everything was fresh. I really pray that things will be back to normal next month. For the person who said that the food was not nutritional..you must have ordered somewhere else. I will pray for your return.



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Julia

posted September 21, 2011 at 11:07 pm


I am saddened by this news. I have ordered Angel Food some months and was pleased by the changes they were making recently. The Bountiful Blessings box was a very good deal, filled with meat, poultry, and frozen vegetables. Angel Food was a wonderful way of stretching my food budget.

I hope it will return in some form. Many families depended on it. I guess it’s easy for those who don’t have to worry about feeding their families to denigrate the food and program but they need to wake up.

There are many folks like myself who can’t get much help from food stamps or the food bank even though our incomes aren’t far above the poverty level. And retail food prices keep increasing. I only qualify for $10/month in food stamps and now Angel Food isn’t an option, either.



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Raymond

posted September 22, 2011 at 1:40 pm


If you live in Georgia you can order Nature’s garden delivered. Their prices are considerably higher but they deliver food to your door steps. Horrible story.



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Gilda

posted September 22, 2011 at 3:49 pm


My aunt had ordered from Angel Food. I really feel sorry that they closed. Maybe you can get more food stamps. Hopefully some churches or organizations will step in to fill the cracks. The governor of Michigan is eliminating food stamps for a lot of the working poor. People complain about people working and getting food stamps. They do not realize that they are now hurting the working underemployed or people who have family members that are sick. The cuts will now hurt more people than they realize. I have no problem with cuts but the economy has to start improving before cuts can be made. Both parties need to start working together to help solve the economy problems instead of working against each other.



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lori cluckey

posted September 23, 2011 at 11:01 pm


Please check out Smartchoicefoodsource, a newer company similar to angel food. We have host sights in akron, ravenna, niles and boredman. Signing up new hosts sights to reach those who need food now that angel food is not.



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Denise

posted September 24, 2011 at 8:01 pm


This is horrible. I am on a gluten free diet due to Celiac Disease and the allergen free box of food was a great deal and can’t even find anything that tastes half that good for twice the price in stores. What a disappointment. I am hoping that something similar to AFM is created so I can afford my already expensive diet that I have no choice whether to eat what I am supposed to or be ill.
I also have to add that I think it is pretty poor of AFM to not be getting on the ball and refunding peoples money. It looks as if the Wingos could more than afford to take the money out of their own pockets and give poverty level people back their money. Shame on you all!



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AmyJo

posted October 2, 2011 at 2:48 pm


Lori- Thanks for the website. Hopefully more people will get involved and it will take the place of AFM.
Gilda- I wouldn’t consider owning a car worth more than $15,000, owning more than one house, or having more than $5,000 in the bank “poor”- that is the changes MI gov is making.



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David

posted October 3, 2011 at 6:38 pm


A lot of cities have started community supported agriculture (CSA) coops that provide good fresh, healthy fruits and vegetables at a very reasonable price.

Let me add that:

Anyone in the ministry for the sake of ministry wouldn’t be paying themselves exorbitant salaries, or stiffing needy people like the Wingos are.

I’ll end on this note:

Judgment Day is coming! Best be ready!



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Karen

posted October 4, 2011 at 12:51 am


It is so sad to see AFM go out this way. They have been a God-send to so many people. I still do not understand the logistics behind all of this. It seems that any help that the people receive is sabotaged by other interests. What kinds of profits do grocery store owners earn for their “overpriced” goods?



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ManOnTheMoon

posted October 5, 2011 at 12:42 pm


I feel really ripped off by these people. We gave them our hard earned money for this food and they don’t even look like they will be refunding us. :( What kind of ‘ministry’ steals money like this?



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Barbara

posted October 12, 2011 at 9:09 pm


Wow! I am stunned by what I have read! I purchased from AFM because I am a single mom trying to put my daughter through college by myself. I was surprised to find that AFM had shut down in September but I now see why! They weren’t struggling in the economy – they were bleeding the organization dry with their salaries! I am saddened that this organization used good churches throughout the country to make a profit for themselves!



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Isabell Washington

posted October 27, 2011 at 6:54 am


I read all the comments, but for me this Anglefood Ministries Food Program played a vital part in my being able to sustain my food pantry on my limited Social Security Budget. I am devestated by this vital resource loss. Can you advise if there is any similar program I may apply to. I appreciate any leads you may provide me in my efforts to find a similar program to Angelfood Ministries. Thank youl



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samantha spores

posted December 2, 2011 at 9:11 am


i think this is a shame. so many people counted on angelfood to make ends meet and i feel like they were taken advantage of. like they were being used to line the pockets of others to continue a lavish lifestyle and when the kitchen got hot they closed down and left these people out to dry.



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Louise

posted February 10, 2012 at 10:49 pm


It is by far the grossest and most disgusting food that I have ever purchased. If I knew that a restaurant was serving that kind of crap, I would never darken their doorstep. Angel Food Ministries was a ridiculous attempt at ripping people off in the name of the Lord.

Good riddance… and by the way… it was a terrible move to show a woman making recipes in a kitchen that most people that bought the boxes could afford… Now let’s cook our cheap food in a $2000 oven…



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Kathie

posted March 20, 2012 at 7:03 pm


Any chance that Angel Food has started back up? I ama disable, single mom who can no longer make it on disability, food stamps and a small monthly food box. I live in Tucson, AZ, does anyone know where I can get some help?



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linda

posted April 1, 2012 at 6:25 pm


this service surely helped a lot of people, I am sorry to hear that it is not going to be working any more. I think someone should start another one up just like it for the people who really need it.



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Linda Dillon

posted August 5, 2012 at 7:13 pm


I WAS WANTING TO KNOW WHEN THE NEXT OR IF THERE WILL BE A NEXT TIME TO GET FOOD IN THE SYLACAUGA AREA.



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