More than six tons of food go down the conveyer belt and out the front door of the Hoosier Hills Food Bank in Bloomington.
The program, which helps out hundreds of people across six counties, has been put almost completely on hold after a major theft in the parking lot over Labor Day weekend. The discovery was demoralizing: someone stole the catalytic converters from two service trucks.
On most days, the 24-foot refrigerated truck would be filled with eight pallets full of food. After the thefts, the trucks have been sitting empty.
"Coincidentally, one of our other trucks was in the shop so three of our four trucks are now out of commission and it has just made it very difficult to scramble and maintain our pick-up and delivery schedules," said Alonso.
To make matters even worse, Alonso said the parts needed to fix the two trucks are on backorder.
"So we do not know if the trucks are going to be down several days (or) several weeks,” said Alonso. “We just do not know at this point."
Volunteers like Allie Perry are upset that fewer people are getting fed.
"Why would you go and hurt something that is helping people in the community?” asked Perry. “It just does not make sense to me. If you are not going to come out and help, why would you destroy it?"
Until the trucks are fixed, the food bank is in damage control mode. They are now trying to help its clientele of 25,000 people, with two fewer sets of wheels.
"We are going out and picking up from several different retail outlets to get the donations,” said Alonso. “From there we are going out to different agencies, food pantries and soup kitchens. We need our fleet of vehicles to do that."
It will cost $8,000 to fix both trucks. The food bank is working on getting the $2,000 it needs for its insurance deductible, all while trying not to take from the people who need their help the most.
Theft at Bloomington food bank leaves volunteers unable to meet growing need