The organization Angel Food Ministries is there to "provide hope" for those in the area that could use a "hand up" in these tough economic times. The program is offered locally with the help of the Spring Valley host site, Valley Christian Center, which has been conducting the program for about three years.

Those who aren't aquainted with the food program are invited to attend the program's re-kickoff event on Saturday, Sept. 25, when a cookout will be held. Valley Christian Center's Pastor Steve Kuno will be doing the grilling. Visitors can also learn more about the food program and how it can help them or their families.

According to the program's website, "Angel Food is a nonprofit, nondenominational food program dedicated to providing monthly food assistance to 500,000 families in 43 states across America. Every month Angel Food provides boxes of high quality, cost effective food items at over half off grocery store prices. Each unit contains enough food to help feed a family of four for about a week or a single senior for almost a month."

Program director Sarah Osterhus said that Angel Food Ministries "provides a way to stretch your food dollars." There is no paperwork and it is confidential.

"People are concerned about money nowadays. Food is something that you need and have to buy so one might cut back somewhere else. If you can save money on groceries, you can put the money somewhere else it is needed," she said.

Osterhus noted that this time of year can be especially tough for families with school-age children because of school fees, school supplies and sports fees.

Osterhus added that this program can help people eat more nutritious meals with meats, fruits and vegetables. There are different menus offered every month and different types of "boxes" available with assorted items. There are even menus that are ideal for seniors and people who have diabetes. Prices of the boxes for the month of September range from $21 to $41 each.

The director added that she doesn't feel that this program is taking away from the area food shelf because "everyone needs milk and eggs" and everyday groceries.

"We are not competing, we just want to give people hope," said Osterhus.

She added that they want to reintroduce the program to the public because "It seems there are more who could benefit from it in the area or for those who someday might need it. It is a way of giving hope; many people don't have much hope anymore."

This program is not income based. Anyone who wishes to purchase boxes of food may do so and there is no limit to the number of boxes one can order at a time.

For menus to order, contact Valley Christian Center, or go to www.angelfoodministries.com.

There are three different options to order. Online: To order online log on to www.vccasembly.org and click on Angel Food Ministries Quick Link on the left side of the webpage. There will be a $2 service fee. In person: Church office hours are Tuesday through Thursday from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mail: Send order form and payment to Valley Christian Center, 610 Territorial Road, Spring Valley, MN 55975. Cash, check or credit cards are accepted.

The deadline for this month is Sept. 13 for all orders to be in to the Valley Christian Center office. The deadline for online orders is Sunday, Sept. 19.

Pick ups are held the fourth Saturday of the month at the church from noon to 1 p.m. This month's pickups will be Saturday, Sept. 25.

People can also order boxes of food for others or donate boxes to others in the area in need.

For more information about the Angel Food Ministries go to www.angelfoodministries.com.

Also, those with questions about the program can call Valley Christian Center at (507) 346 -2101; a message will be passed on to Osterhus.