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January 15, 2010

Affordable Food Networks

Groceries form a major portion of any person or families' monthly budget. Everyone needs to eat, but since that category is not a regularly scheduled bill, often the food budget is the area to be pinched in tough times. One affordable community resource can be a local food ministry.

Treasure Box

The mission of Treasure Box is to partner with faith-based and community-action organizations to provide families with affordable food and bring communities together, one box at a time.

The Treasure Box provides families and individuals with a substantial box of grocery store quality food retailing between $65-100 for just $30 each. The Treasure Box cultivates relationships with more than 500 major food manufacturers across the country to purchase and provide top quality, nutritious food at sizeable volume discounts to the general public.

Each Treasure Box contains between 21-25 pounds of high quality, frozen foods, including chicken, pork, beef, or seafood, as well as vegetables, fruit, a side dish and a dessert. One Treasure Box is enough food to nutritiously feed a family of four lunch and dinner for almost a week or a senior citizen for nearly a month.

The Treasure Boxes are offered through surrounding host locations – community action or outreach programs and faith-based organizations. Representing a savings of nearly 60% off of grocery store prices, The Treasure Box provides a positive and healthy impact to families and individuals during this economically challenging time.

The Treasure Box is a division of Good Source Solutions, a food distribution company with more than 20 years of service to non-profits, higher education institutions, government feeding programs and specialty markets.

In addition to their regular monthly menu, The Treasure Box also offers a Hearty Meat Protein Box and a Quick & Healthy Meal Box.

Angel Food Ministries

Angel Food is available in a quantity that can fit into a medium-sized box at $30 per unit. Each month's menu is different than the previous month and consists of both fresh and frozen items with an average retail value of approximately $60. Comparison shopping has been done across the country in various communities using a wide range of retail grocery stores and has resulted in the same food items costing from between $42 and $78.

Generally, one unit of food assists in feeding a family of four for about one week or a single senior citizen for almost a month. The food is all the same high quality one could purchase at a grocery store. There are no second-hand items, no damaged or out-dated goods, no dented cans without labels, no day-old breads and no produce that is almost too ripe.

Also offered are specialty boxes such as steaks, chicken and pork. Many participants in this bonus program appreciate the expanded choices. Additionally, there is no limit to the number of units or bonus foods an individual can receive, and there are no applications to complete or qualifications to which participants must adhere. Angel Food Ministries also participates in the U.S. Food Stamp program, using the Off-Line Food Stamp Voucher system.

I've never availed myself of these programs because of my specialized vegetarian diet. For a meat-eating typical family, though, these offers can mean the difference between going hungry and eating a balanced diet. Neither of these programs have an income limit or requirement. For a location finder for Treasure Box, click here, and for a local site finder for Angel Food, click here.

Do you use either of these resources, or any other food network? Do you volunteer with their distribution? Please leave a comment on the blog if you have any first-hand experience.

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