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October 8, 2011

Church hosts ‘Smart Choice’ effort

TERRE HAUTE —

A new effort to provide affordable food to families in Vigo County is under way at the Faith Outreach Family Church, which will soon serve as a new host site for Ohio-based Smart Choice Food Source.

Smart Choice, through bulk purchasing and distribution, can provide food boxes for $35, with food coming from a vendor in St. Louis, said Guinn Shingleton, pastor of Faith Outreach Family Church, 3001 Wallace Ave., about two blocks from Sugar Grove Elementary School.

Each “Smart box” contains 21 pounds of food, with at least 9 to 14 pounds of meat plus vegetables, potatoes or pasta. The food box is designed to feed a family of four for a week or a single person for nearly a month, Shingleton said.“It is almost a two-to-one value, with the $35 box containing food valued at $60 to $70,” he said.

“It is not outdated or damaged food or donated food. It is restaurant-grade food,” Shingleton said. “There are no eligibility requirements. If you eat, you qualify. There is no limit on how much you can order.

“If we get an order for 100 boxes, then 100 boxes are shipped. If it is 1,000, then 1,000 boxes are delivered,” Shingleton said.

The church decided to become a host site after Angel Food Ministries closed its operation nationwide.

“The food will come from a vendor in St. Louis which is a real plus, because before, with Angel Food, it would come from a warehouse in Georgia.

“This will eliminate a lot of transportation costs and we may not be as subject to the weather, with a truck traveling through the Smoky Mountains in the winter. The likelihood is smaller now for delays,”

Shingleton said.

Shingleton said the Smart Choice program at Faith Outreach Family Church is slated to start in November, with the first distribution to be made on Nov. 19.

 The deadline to participate in the first distribution is Nov. 8, he said.

Orders can be made, starting Monday, at the church or by calling (812) 232-4454. Payment is made upfront for the food boxes.

For the first delivery, cash or checks must be used. The church expects to have its own food stamp number for use in December, allowing foods stamps to be used for payment, Shingleton said.

All deliveries, arriving in prepackaged boxes, will be made one Saturday a month.

Early next week, the church expects to list a menu of food available in a regular box or meat box on its website at www.fofchurch.org, Shingleton said.

A menu example includes a list such as: 5 pounds breaded chicken tenders; 1.5 pound boneless chicken breast; 4 x 4 ounce beef patties; 1 pound country ham; 1.5 pound fish sticks; 2 pound broccoli florets; 2 pound onion rings; 2 pound dried pasta; 5 pound bag of potatoes; 3 pound bag of onions; a dessert item.

Other boxes can also be obtained, such as a burger box, which contains 40 four-ounce hamburger patties. The box contains 10 pounds of meat.

Shingleton said churches in other Wabash Valley counties may seek to participate and can simply pick up boxes in Terre Haute and take them to their churches.

Shingleton said New Beginning Church in Effingham, Ill., will be the Smart Choice host site for Illinois. Residents in Illinois can call (217) 342-3305 for information, Shingleton said.

Georgia-based Angel Food Ministries cited an economic downturn for its closing last month. It stated increased food and fuel prices contributed to a decline in sales, dropping the number of monthly orders from about 550,000 boxes to about 125,000 boxes.

According to an Associated Press report, the nationwide food ministry’s finances came under scrutiny by the FBI in 2009, and board members and employees filed a lawsuit accusing the leadership of using the nonprofit to make money.

The lawsuit was settled in 2009, AP reports, and no criminal charges were filed in the FBI investigation.

Howard Greninger can be reached at (812) 231-4204 or howard.greninger@tribstar.com.

 

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