A late November break-in at a Bronson Centre food bank in which more than $4,000 in food and office supplies was stolen has added to the organization’s challenges during what’s turned out to be a difficult holiday season.
“I saw things scattered all over the floor. I didn’t realize there was something missing right away until I walked in,” said Mike Salter, a volunteer at the Dalhousie Food Cupboard. “I saw the fridge was open and I looked at it. It was obvious there was meat missing. Then I realized somebody came in through the window and helped themselves.”
Nearly 90 kilograms of pork and beef was gone.
“I am sure there is more than one person, just by the amount they took. They had to have a car.”
Salter said the robbery came at a difficult time when the organization’s volunteers are busy making gift bags for their clients. Thieves not only stole food, but also a laptop, a paper cutter, a container of floor polish and a coffee maker.
The community, including other food banks, rallied help.
“This is just such an awful and heartless crime,” said Erin O’Manique, executive director at Gloucester Emergency Food Cupboard.
“I feel sad about the person. But it is very hard to make judgment.”
She said food banks work hard to get donations; the theft robs them of that effort, too. Stolen items, especially food, create a devastating impact on the program.
Salter and O’Manique agreed that food banks are an easy target because they typically operate just three days a week and are empty on other days. They said the thieves were probably desperate.
“People have to make a choice between paying the rent and hydro or food,” said Katrin Doll, an anti-poverty community coordinator at Rideau Rockcliffe Community Resource Centre. “More often, food becomes optional.”
The Dalhousie Food Cupboard serves approximately 800 clients a month. It has upgraded its security system to prevent further thefts.
Volunteers have resumed the busy work of preparing food bags for clients to receive during the Christmas season.
“Everyone was upset,” said Salter. “But we are back to normal.”