Representatives from the Georgia headquarters of Angel Food Ministries are scheduled to hold an invitation-only meeting at a York church on Thursday.
Several local volunteers for Angel Food Ministries said they were invited to the meeting, which is planned for 7 to 8:30 p.m. at Fourth United Methodist Church at East Market and North Lehman streets.
The meeting is closed to the public, and only those with invitations will be admitted, Heather Waldo, an assistant at AFM in Georgia, said by e-mail.
The church's pastor, the Rev. Mitch Galloway, said invitations were distributed from the charity's offices in Good Hope, Ga.
Spokesmen for AFM did not respond to requests for comment about the meeting.
The Rev. Marion Haynes-Weller, whose Hellam Township church hosts AFM sales, said she accepted her invitation to the meeting hoping that AFM representatives will address some of the issues raised in an article in the York Daily Record/Sunday News last month.
"That is why I am going," she said.
The Daily Record/Sunday News story reported that charity watchdogs and experts believe AFM's executive pay and insider loan practices raise the question of whether some of the charity's earnings are being used to benefit insiders instead of for a charitable purpose.
The article described nearly $2.5 million in compensation paid in one year to the Wingo family, which founded and operates the organization.
Family members also borrowed money from AFM. At the end of 2007, the Wingos owed a balance of nearly $1.1 million on loans from the charity, according to the latest-available tax records.
A spokesman for AFM has said the compensation was appropriate for a charity of its size and that the Wingos' compensation and loans were intended to reduce personal debt they incurred on start-up costs. He said the Wingos plan to repay the loan balances they owe.
After the article's publication, several local volunteers clarified with their congregations that they receive no pay for their AFM work, they said.
They also emphasized how the ministry helps stretch the food budgets of hundreds of local families through grocery sales, donations of food to the needy and benevolence initiatives in the community.
The program has no income guidelines or residential requirements. People pay $30 for a box of fresh, frozen and packaged food worth roughly $60 in retail value, according to AFM.
Volunteers who take the food orders in York County have distributed more than 11,000 boxes since the program began locally in June 2007.
AFM donates $1 to the host church's benevolent fund for each box sold there. Most local churches take the $1 received on each grocery unit and use it to support their AFM costs or to buy extra boxes they donate to the needy, church representatives said.
Bev Crowl, who helps organize the grocery distribution in the Airville area, said the Wingos' finances do not concern her.
"We feel they deserve whatever they get," Crowl said in a voice-mail message last week.
"They take nothing from nobody. They don't ask for donations and, in fact, give (back) to you -- unlike the Red Cross or the Easter Seals, who beg for money and whose CEOs make fantastic money. ...
"We're thankful for the program and that they do what they do -- the amount of 500,000 people a month that they help and the money they return for us for our church use."
The charity evaluator Charity Navigator publishes its research on nonprofit CEO compensation each year.
In 2006, Angel Food Ministries CEO Joe Wingo's compensation ($588,529) was more than twice the median salary of $220,000 that Charity Navigator reported for CEOs at nonprofits with expenses between $25 million and $50 million that year. AFM's expenses were just under $17.7 million in 2006.
In 2007, his compensation ($164,938) was well below that year's median of $224,859 for CEOs at nonprofit organizations with $25 million to $50 million in expenses. AFM's expenses were $26.8 million in 2007.
FBI, IRS SEARCH ANGEL FOOD OFFICES
The meeting in York was scheduled before the news was reported that the FBI and IRS had served search warrants at Angel Food Ministries' offices Wednesday in Good Hope, Ga.
Neither federal agency commented on why it searched the charity's offices. It is not clear whether the FBI and IRS action had anything to do with the issues raised in the York Daily Record/Sunday News story.