UPDATE: A Rochelle food pantry in danger of not having enough for Thanksgiving got a helping hand. Comcast presented a $500 dollar check to hand-in-hand food pantry. The non-profit had thousands of dollars of food stolen last month.
ROCHELLE (WIFR) -- A local food pantry plans to buy security cameras and beef up security after thousands of pounds of food goes missing.
Freezers usually brimming with chicken breasts and ground beef sit half full at the Hand in Hand food pantry of Rochelle. More than a hundred cases of frozen meat and canned goods are gone: at 50 pounds a case, that's more than 5,000 pounds of missing food.
"I think we're still taking it all in, it's a bit overwhelming. It makes us sad and upset that people would steal food from the poorest in the community, that’s basically what's happened,” says longtime volunteer and pantry outreach director Vicki Pemberton.
The person who tracks the pantry's inventory was out of town for a week and a half. Volunteers think that’s when the thieves struck. A locksmith has been in to install more locks on the building’s basement and kitchen.
"It's hard on our volunteers because they get to know these people personally and when they know the people really need more, it's hard to send them out feeling light,” says Pemberton.
The pantry served more than 800 people in September. With fewer supplies on hand, volunteers have been forced to hand out less to families.
"People come in and according to the size of their family, they are allowed to pick out a certain number of items, we had to limit that last week. We limited the amount of meat to just sausage and hot dogs,” adds Pemberton.
Deliveries from the Northern Illinois Food Bank and private donations have refilled some of the pantry's shelves; volunteers say it will take time to get back to normal. They do plan to provide to families as scheduled on Wednesday.
Rock Valley Credit Union will also be presenting a $500 check to Hand in Hand Pantry to help restock their supplies. In addition, the credit union will have a food drive from November 1 – 16 in their Rochelle office located at 561 Flagg Road.
The Rochelle Police Department is looking into the case. Detectives say there was no sign of a break in at the building.