For families who make too much for public assistance, but are still trying to trim their budgets, there are several volunteer organizations that purchase bulk food and distribute it to families who purchase the boxes at good prices. There are no income restrictions or verifications necessary for the services listed below. I have never tried any of these programs but I have heard from lots of people who have and most customers are quite pleased with the service.
If you live near a commissary, are a super coupon clipper or a fantastic bargain shopper, these programs may not be a good financial deal for you. However, if you are shopping on the economy, especially in a place where prices are higher, or are unable to devote lots of time to finding food deals, these services might help you cut your food budget.
Angel Food Ministries operates in 45 states and has over 5200 locations. They offer a variety of different packages including the Bread of Life signature box ($31), the Bit O' Blessing Box ($21), the Bountiful Blessing Box ($41), Fast and Flavorful Cuisine ($28), a Gluten Free breaded items box ($25), the Just 4 Me After School Snack Box ($24), the Just 4 Me No Child Goes Without Box ($24), the Just 4 Me After School Fruit and Veggie Box ($16), Pastor Joe's Premium Box ($51), and various assorted special boxes that change monthly. Angel Food Ministries is able to accept food stamps through its participating locations, and it also offers online ordering.
The Treasure Box operates in California, Arizona and Nevada. They offer a variety of different boxes including the namesake Treasure Box, the Hearty Protein Box, the Quick & Healthy Meal Box, the Breakfast Box, and the Seafood Box, each at $32. The main offering, The Treasure Box, is designed to provide dinners for four people for a week. You can see the box menus at the website. Many locations offer online ordering. Participating locations may take food stamps during their cash payment times. Please contact the location directly for more details.
Mid America Foods operates in Arkansas, Kansas, Ohio, Illinois, Michigan, Oklahoma, Indiana, and Missouri. They also offer a variety of packages including the Family Meal Box ($29), Suppertime Premium Entrees ($22), the Select Box ($17), the Frozen Fruit & Veggie Box ($14), and the Dessert Box ($20). Orders are taken online through the main website, via telephone, or at the local outreach centers.
The Share Food Network or loosely affiliated organizations operate independently in numerous locations throughout the country, including the Washington, DC area, Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, metropolitan New York, and the Eastern Shore of Maryland, the San Diego area, Wisconsin, the UP of Michigan, northern Illinois, and northeastern Minnesota, Hampton Roads, Minnesota, Iowa and Utah. Each program operates slightly differently, but most require two hours of volunteer service (your choice) in exchange for the discounted grocery prices. Some locations may offer online ordering and most accept food stamps.
The discount grocery (usually ministry) programs operate on a monthly schedule. There is an ordering deadline each month, then there is a specific day on which you must pick up your order from your local site. I have heard both good and bad reviews of these programs, primarily talking about the quality of the food included in the packages. As I said before, if you are a savvy shopper or have access to a military commissary, these programs may not offer significant savings for you. However, they might be just the key to stretch your grocery budget a little further.
Please let me know if you have used these programs, and also share information about similar programs so we all can learn.