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It's A Help Out, Not A Handout

Hernando Today
Published:   |   Updated: May 13, 2013 at 05:58 PM
BROOKSVILLE -

Colleen Hopkins was stuffing coolers and grocery bags with beef top sirloin steaks as part of her monthly volunteer work Saturday morning.

She sees the benefits from both sides of the Angel Food Ministries service.

Hopkins showed up at the church last July the first time the truck delivered to Christ Lutheran Church in Brooksville. She has made return visits every month since then.

"Someone told me about this program where I could order food for a low cost and then I thought, 'Why not volunteer, too?'" said Hopkins, who lives in Spring Hill. "This is the nicest bunch of people I've ever worked with."

Angel Food Ministries is not merely a service to those on food stamps or are unemployed, although several hundred in either category do take part.

The program also is available to those working class families - or anyone wishing for an easier way to purchase groceries each month. There are no requirements.

Coordinator Anna Lammy said four churches and two substation churches come to Christ Lutheran to pick up food for their members.

The Christian Church of the Wildwood in Weeki Wachee also is a delivery station for Angel Food Ministries, which is based out of Macon, Ga.

The truck arrives at 5 a.m. at the Brooksville church, which is located at 475 North Ave. The unloading begins by 5:30 a.m. and the food is out of the truck and inside the church hall by 7 a.m.

The pickups take place every fourth Saturday of the month at Christ Lutheran Church in Brooksville. There were more than 40 volunteers at the church Saturday.

"A lot of people in the community think they don't qualify," said Lammy. "Sometimes pride gets in the way. Someone who makes $30,000 and has a family of four can't bring themselves to do this ... This is not a handout. It's a help out."

The selection isn't like what is normally found at a garden-variety food bank. There is variety offered each month by Angel Food Ministries.

The March menu includes rib eye steaks, meatballs, California blend vegetables, split chicken breast, pasta, condensed soup, eggs and milk.

A senior convenience box also includes barbecue park rib patties, home-style meatloaf, chicken sausage with baked beans and pot roast and gravy. Such a menu is suited for seniors as well as those "on the go."

An allergen-free box was just added Saturday.

Several specials, which include meats, vegetables, breads and desserts, also are listed and range from $18 to $22. The food quantities range from four to 10 pounds.

People arrived Saturday carrying bags, coolers, laundry baskets and carts.

"Sometimes people forget these things, so we offer them boxes," said Hopkins, after she saw another volunteer snatch an empty cardboard box off the floor.

Several people who take advantage of the Angel Food Ministries deliveries used to be part of the SHARE program, a nonprofit organization that offers discounts on groceries in exchange for community service.

Among them were Tammy Rogers and Joan Baker, both of Brooksville.

"This costs a little more, but you can get so much more food," said Baker. "I live on it."

Both of them have referred several of their friends, they said.

"Most of the food is really good and the produce is excellent," said Rogers.

Jeannette Lollie, of Brooksville, grabbed a laundry basket from her car and headed toward the entrance shortly before 10 a.m. Saturday. She was grocery shopping for a family of four.

Pride was not getting in the way of this working mom.

"My family comes first," Lollie said. "I'm not too worried about pride."

For more information about Angel Food Ministries, call Christ Lutheran Church at 352-796-8331 or Christian Church in the Wildwood at 352-596-1388. To view a menu, visit www.angelfoodministries.com.


Reporter Tony Holt can be reached at 352-544-5283 or wholt@hernandotoday.com.

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