Only a few weeks after Angel Food Ministries shut down, a lawsuit has been filed against the formerly popular food discount ministry by one of its vendors for breach of contract.
Skylark Meats, a company based in Omaha, Neb., filed suit against AFM in U.S. District Court in the Middle District of Georgia on Sept. 30, accusing the former ministry of failing to pay for, or return food that had already been delivered to the ministry before it closed its doors. Skylark Meats is attempting to collect at least $77,202.96 in damages.
The suit also alleges that AFM was aware of its legal obligations, but was “stubbornly litigious and otherwise caused [Skylark Meats] unnecessary trouble and expense,” therefore, Skylark is asking for AFM to pay for court costs as well.
AFM was a nonprofit ministry founded in 1994 by pastors Joe and Linda Wingo, as a means of helping the poor through discounted food sales. At one point the ministry fed approximately 500,000 families nationwide.
But although the ministry helped many people, there were also a number questionable financial and legal issues that led many to question the integrity of the organization. AFM landed on Ministry Watch's 2010 list of donor alerts for being the focus of an ongoing FBI investigation and for a previous lawsuit, which has since been settled, brought against the Wingos by two former AFM directors.
In September, AFM announced it would not be able to distribute its food for the month, blaming the poor economic climate. They said they would work on restructuring the ministry, but after only a few short weeks announced that they would be shutting down for good.
Now a group of former AFM employees is seeking to start up a similar ministry under new leadership.
“I agree that questions can be raised, but please understand this is a completely new entity and most of the folks that were involved before will not be involved with this,” the new ministry's organizers posted on AFM's Facebook page Sunday.
“We will be transparent from the beginning and hopefully that will satisfy anyone that wants to hold onto the past publicity. Regardless as to who made what and what has happened, the fact remains that many are out of jobs and many more nationwide need help with food. Our small group of former employees and vendors are working together and it will be several folks making decisions while we try to re-vamp a program that will benefit all.”
According to another post, the new organization hopes to be operational in November.
Neither a Skylark Meats spokesperson nor the company's attorney in the suit, Paul W. Burke, could be reached for comment by the time of publication. The Wingos also could not be reached.
Barry Bowen contributed to this report