(UPDATED Saturday evening: Scroll down for newest info)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
It’s distribution day at the Providence Regina House food bank in South Park. Hundreds of families – about 2,000 people in all – will be fed with the food picked up today by food-bank clients waiting in a long line that, by opening time, was already wrapping around the corner that holds the South Park Neighborhood Center, where the food bank is a tenant.
But those families – many with young children, since today is also “Baby Day” at the food bank – won’t be getting meat. Somebody broke into the food bank’s walk-in freezer overnight and stole an estimated $4,000 of donated meat.
Paige Collins from Providence Regina House tells us that, adding insult to injury, the thief or thieves busted the locking/latching mechanism in a way that renders the freezer unusable until fixed. So even if someone donated replacement meat, they have no place to put it.
They’ve been hit by theft before, and there have been signs of attempts to get into the freezer, but never before has anyone actually succeeded, she says. The meat is donated over the course of each week by the QFC on Capitol Hill – it’s meat that is perfectly good but can’t be sold past its pull date.
The thieves were picky, Collins adds, taking “the good stuff” – which ranges all the way up to roasts – and leaving behind the lowest-grade items, like ground turkey. They also created a mess to get to it – a mess cleaned up by the time we visited, but one that took precious time from food bank staff/volunteers getting ready for their busy distribution hours.
We found out about the theft because Collins had sent a note to the South Park e-mail list, wondering if any neighbors had seen suspicious activity behind the SPNC building. West Seattleites should be on the lookout too. When we visited, another employee was walking surrounding blocks looking for evidence; the stolen meat would have been in banana boxes or in black bins like these:
Those are apparently unique to this food bank. The theft was reported to police early this morning, so if you have any information, call 911.
It’s too soon for Collins to know what they’ll do next; “I can replace the lock, but what if they just come do it again?” she wondered aloud. And they do have enough food to feed everyone today – it’ll just be less than they would have given out otherwise, and South Park is one of the most poverty-challenged areas in the city.
P.S. Collins’ contact information – and donation information for the Providence Regina House food bank, which runs a clothing bank too – is here.
EVENING UPDATE: Collins tells us they believe they know who did it, after getting word a suspect was out trying to hustle some of the stolen food on the street. They also have learned that some of it was seen at a local laundromat earlier today, and are hoping video surveillance might help identify a suspect.