September 11, 2009 10:26:00 AM
Tim Pratt -
By day, Matthew Rye is director of the Starkville Parks and Recreation Department.
One weekend a month, however, Rye turns into the director of a program aimed at helping the less fortunate. Rye is director of Angel Food Ministries at Faith Baptist Church.
The program, which can be found at churches throughout the country, gives people the chance to buy food and meals at discount prices. Between 100 and 120 Starkville area residents typically show up at Faith Baptist each month to take advantage of the offers.
"It''s a great savings opportunity for people to purchase these items," Rye said. "You''re getting (food) at half-cost compared to what you pay at the grocery store. It''s not second-grade material. It''s top-grade material. The reason you''re able to do that is there is no middle man."
"It''s a great opportunity for savings in this economic downturn," he added.
The food, which this month features everything from steaks and chicken to apples and onions, is transported to Starkville by truck from Angel Food facilities in Atlanta. Faith Baptist acts as a hub for more than a half dozen other local churches. Those churches, including two from the Columbus area, come to Faith Baptist each month when the food supplies arrive, then take the items back to their own community members in need.
First United Methodist Church and State Line Baptist Church outside of Columbus act as host sites for the program, according to the Angel Food Ministries Web site. Faith Baptist is the only Starkville church that participates, but churches in Maben, Amory, Brooksville and Nettleton also act as host sites.
Participants each month must pick their desired items from a menu. The food then shows up at Faith Baptist a few weeks later and church volunteers show up in force to hand it out.
Faith Baptist Pastor Blaine Allen said there is no qualification process or obligation. And you don''t have to be a member of the church to participate. Anyone in need is welcome, he said.
One month, between 400 and 450 Starkville area residents participated, Rye said.
"It''s usually people who would not be considered on the poverty level, but things are very tight," Allen said. "This helps bridge their food costs so they can have resources for other items, like clothing, their children''s school supplies, things like that."