Angel Food Ministries Statement on FBI Probe and Lawsuit

Angel Food Ministries has Done Nothing Wrong

Tuesday, March 31, 2009 – Monroe, GA: To adequately address the issue of an open FBI investigation and a lawsuit filed by two Angel Food Ministries board members, we stand firm that Angel Food Ministries has done nothing wrong.

The legal matters have forced us to operate under a series of sometimes competing circumstances; maintaining our mission of faith, maintaining our legal position in a secular judicial environment and maintaining our ability to deliver the much needed food relief services that people have come to rely on.  If under those limitations some feel that our response lacks the heart of the servant, we ask that those people refer to Matthew 7:1 on passing judgment and our revered right to the presumption of innocence.

We live by both, the spirit and the letter of the law; we are proud of what Angel Food has accomplished and expect that during the government’s review, they will discover an effective way to feed our country’s hungry and offer hope in a manner that few have been able to achieve.  Additionally, we are certain that our work and operation continues to make the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) look very good for its confidence in our program.  In 2004, AFM was offered a grant for its warehouse, but Pastor Wingo chose to reject the offer, instead choosing a USDA loan to be repaid.  It was then, the largest loan approved for a Faith Based Initiative.

As to the lawsuit, we deny the allegations made by Atnip and Prather.  AFM remains financially sound, and we maintain that we have acted in good faith regarding attempts to finalize the terms of the settlement agreement.   We are, however, hopeful that the final terms can be established at the April 24th hearing in the Walton County Superior Court.

Additionally, Angel Food Ministries is currently addressing the issues which concerned the court at the March 6th hearing.

In response to concerns regarding CEO compensation matters, the Angel Food Ministry Board of Directors determined that Pastor Wingo’s salary should be commensurate with his duties and responsibilities.  Those responsibilities do not end with operating a $140 million ministry and operation.  It is more than unending workdays and sleepless nights; more that simply overseeing an immense purchasing and shipping supply chain, a vast host site distribution network, a staff of nearly 300, a fleet of tractor trailers, hundreds of thousands of square feet worth of real estate, or millions of dollars in loans and credit.  Pastors Joe and Linda Wingo do what most church pastors and ministry leaders do not do at these levels; they personally indemnify the nuts and bolts of the entire operation.

In layman’s terms, if something should go wrong, and we pray and work hard every day to ensure that it never does, the Wingos are personally liable for about $18 million in bank notes, loans, food purchases and trucking costs every single month.  That is a huge debt to ask anyone to personally carry, and the Wingos assume this burden readily to keep the food on America’s tables.

Today, we do not have the luxury of lying down.  There is so much need and so much economic pain in our country and Angel Food will continue meeting the demands that food insecurity has placed on millions of Americans, and it will do it without seeking donations and without requiring a tithe.  Angel Food Ministries will continue providing food for the people of the United States, and we have at a growing rate in every month of 2009.  AFM remains a strong force against hunger; orders are being taken for April, and we will feed everyone who asks.

Angel Food Ministries (www.angelfoodministries.com) is a non-profit, non-denominational organization dedicated to providing financial support in the form of food relief to communities throughout the United States.  Established in 1994 to provide relief for struggling families in the Monroe, GA area, Angel Food Ministries today serves hundreds of thousands of families across now 40 states, having added Arizona in March 2009. Since inception, Angel Food Ministries has fed more than 20 million Americans. In 2008, AFM provided $140 million in direct food assistance to American families.

Angel Food offers a medium-sized box of food for $30 that contains top quality food staples from every food group, including chicken or beef, milk, eggs, vegetables, and other nutritious items. One box of food feeds a family of four for about one week, or a single senior citizen for almost a month. The menu varies each month, and consists of both fresh and frozen items with an average retail value of approximately $60.

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