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Ozark church cares for, serves area families with food distribution programcomment (0)

October 5, 2006

By Lindsay M. Brewer

Human “angels” from Ridgecrest Baptist Church, Ozark, in Dale Baptist Association have joined the nationwide Angel Food Ministries, an organization that offers quality food at a low cost.
Ridgecrest Baptist is now an official Angel Food site, allowing the church to order the food directly from the ministry’s Monroe, Ga., headquarters. About 20 other Alabama Baptist churches also serve as host sites for the ministry.
After several church families began purchasing the $25 Angel Food boxes from the Daleville Food Ministry and were impressed with the quality of food, Ridgecrest realized the interest in and need for such a ministry. “Our church family has jumped in with both feet,” said Pastor Jim Hill. “The whole church family is really involved in it.” 
Co-directors Hope Bates, Anne Carr and Leah Harlow coordinate the ministry that enables people to buy a box of food once a month and hear about Christ. “[Angel Food is] just a real blessing to our community and for our church,” Bates said. 
Hill said Ridgecrest’s Boy Scout Troop 316 has also taken on the ministry as a project, helping with the distribution of the boxes.
Since Ridgecrest became a site in March, the number of people it serves has grown from half a dozen families to 116 families.
Hill said the ministry has attracted the interest of another church in Dale Association, Newton Baptist. That church plans to become a distribution site once it attracts enough participants to order the food directly. 
Bates said a friend alerted her to Angel Food when she was looking for a way to cut costs in taking care of her family. One box of food usually feeds a family of four for about a week or a single senior citizen for almost a month. 
The medium-sized boxes contain fresh and frozen food items that have an average retail value of $50. Every item is grocery-store quality — there are no dented cans, day-old breads, almost too ripe produce or secondhand, damaged or outdated items. Customers can also order specialty boxes that include steak, chicken and pork.
Harlow said she has been impressed with the meat choices available in the specialty boxes, as well as the eggs, fruit and occasional desserts offered in the regular boxes. 
Purchasing an Angel Food box enables families like the Harlows to be good stewards of their money, saving money on groceries and using it for other necessities. 
Harlow added that participation in the Angel Food ministry has blurred the lines of economic position in the church. Ridgecrest has set up an anonymous fund — called “Annie Mouse” — for those wanting to buy boxes for fellow church members in need.
Harlow said she enjoys letting people know they have a box waiting for them because someone else has taken care of the cost.
Recipients of the Annie Mouse fund boxes can join others who have ordered Angel Food boxes on distribution day, the last Saturday of the month. At 6 a.m., Ridgecrest volunteers and others participating in the Angel Food ministry go to the nearby town of Pinckard to pick up the food in bulk from an Angel Food freezer truck. When the Ridgecrest volunteers arrive at the church, others fill the food boxes. Boxes can be picked up until noon.
Participants visit the church on the first Saturday of the month from 8 a.m. to noon to order the boxes. They can use food stamps to acquire the food boxes. There is no limit to the number of boxes an individual can order, and no applications or qualifications are required. 
Bates said the interaction with community members allows volunteers to share Christ, as does a magazine, provided by Angel Food, that is included in the box and explains the gospel.

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