DeLAND, Fla. – People at DeLand Open Bible Ministry said they’re not upset, just disappointed. They want everyone to know that if they need assistance with food, all they have to do is ask.
According Volusia County deputies, someone broke into the food pantry at DeLand Open Bible Ministry last week, pushing an air conditioning unit through the window. They got away with about $500 worth of meat, including steaks. They even took bites out of food and left the scraps in the refrigerators.
“They trashed the place too, and I was like ‘why?’ We’re willing to help. If you ask, we’ll just give the food to you,” church member Frank Benton said.
Benton has been a member of the ministry for more than 10 years. He said the thief also unplugged all of the fridges and freezers before leaving. Luckily, they were able to save the food inside.
“It really did hurt me because I just couldn’t understand why you would do that,” Benton said. “The person itself, we pray for them. We love them. I hope if they get their lives straight, they’ll come back and we’ll help them.”
Benton said more than a thousand people in the community depend on their food pantry to feed their families each month. The church purchases the food from Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida and hosts distribution events.
“It can be desperate times right now for a lot of people. People who are furloughed and laid off, that’s on top of people that needed help before the pandemic,” chief development officer of the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida Greg Higgerson said.
The Food Bank partners with more than 550 food programs in Central Florida and said all you have to do to get the food is show up to one of the distribution events. You are not required to provide any information.
After hearing about the burglary in DeLand, Second Harvest Food Bank is getting results, replacing more than 2,000 pounds of meat that was stolen or damaged.
“We’re going to have to unfortunately put up some bars, like a jail, to keep people from breaking in through the window,” Benton said.
He said thieves won’t keep them from helping families in the community. The church hosts distribution events every fourth Saturday, but this month the distribution event is being held on Saturday, Jan. 30 from 9 a.m. to noon.
DeLand Open Bible Ministry is accepting donations. They said monetary donations are best because they can buy food in bulk from Second Harvest Food Bank at discounted prices.
To donate, call the church at 386-736-7100 or call Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida at 407-295-1066.
Volusia County deputies said there are surveillance cameras outside the church, but didn’t say if the thief was caught on camera. If you have any information on the burglary, you’re asked to contact the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office.