A regional ministry that provides food at a discounted price will begin distribution later this month in Hagerstown to anyone who wishes to take advantage of the service, organizers said this week.
“If you eat, you qualify,” said Ron Kosor, founder and president of HIS Food Ministry.
Based in Derry, Pa., HIS Food Ministry provides food at a 50 percent discount, using local churches as distribution points all over the Northeast.
Concordia Lutheran Church, at 17907 Garden Lane in Hagerstown, is a local distribution site for the ministry, which offers boxes of food to anybody without restrictions.
Boxes cost $29 and contain an assortment of grocery store items, such as boneless chicken, ground beef, lasagna, pizza and vegetables.
“Who is not going to benefit from that?” said the Rev. Emil Gretarsson, pastor at Concordia.
The church had formerly been a distribution point for Angel Food Ministries, but that service ceased in September 2011 when leaders of the Georgia-based ministry were indicted on charges of fraud, wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering through the organization, according to the Associated Press.
Gretarsson said it was it an “unfortunate situation” when Angel Food closed, but HIS Food offers an even better opportunity for the community. Food boxes through HIS Food are cheaper and contain better quality items than the previous service, he said.
“Anybody of any income can benefit from this,” he said. “It’s a hand up, not a hand out.”
Kosor said the goal of HIS Food is to help local people keep food on the table while helping community churches stay alive. For every order of $29, the ministry kicks back a $2 donation to the church that serves as the distribution site.
“There’s so many churches hurting right now,” Kosor said, noting that 97 percent of churches close because of lack of finances or low membership.
“We don’t have a whole lot of overhead, and we’re a true nonprofit 501(c)(3) that’s set up to just take those funds we’re getting, purchase food with that and have a $2 donation go to the local church,” he said. “It’s just a great concept when operated properly.”
The ministry distributes food in Maryland, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia, Ohio, Delaware, North Carolina and South Carolina, Kosor said.
Another church in the Tri-State area, One Hope Ministries in Martinsburg, W.Va., is also participating in the program, Kosor said.
Food stamps are not accepted yet for purchases at Concordia, but that service should be available within the next few months, Gretarsson said. Orders can be placed at the church or online.
The first distribution date for Hagerstown and Martinsburg is March 24. The deadline for online orders is Monday, March 12, at 5 p.m.
A full menu of items is available online, and orders can be placed at www.hisfoodministry.net.