Local

Donations help food pantry repair vandalized vehicles

ELLETTSVILLE, Ind. (WISH) — Pantry 279, an Ellettsville food pantry that serves 34 counties in southern and central Indiana, had two of its vehicles vandalized in the early morning of July 30.

Director Cindy Chavez told News 8 on Saturday, “Somebody had come and shattered all the handles off the van. He had taken a board and dented the doors, so they were very difficult to shut. He popped open the hood of the van and cut the battery cables, cut the catalytic converter, not off but just destroyed it.”

Another vehicle owned by Pantry 279 had its catalytic converter ripped off.

The damage couldn’t have come at worse time. The Monroe County food pantry had to feed 2,000 kids over the summer.

“There were donations we could not pick up. We could not drive over to the places offsite where we have things. We couldn’t do deliveries for a while because we had the delivery car,” Chavez said.

By Saturday, most of the damage has been fixed thanks to donations from the community and local mechanics.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic and in a period where food prices are up, Pantry 279 is seeing a lot more customers.

“We’re at 7,000 and climbing every month,” Chavez said.

Chavez adds no one has every vandalized her pantry in the seven years its been open.

“It really hurt us more than anything else. We felt hurt. We felt abused. It’s, like, why would you do that? We feed you. We feed the community. We feed everybody Why would you come and do this and destroy the possibility of someone getting food, especially kids and the elderly?”

Chavez turned over surveillance footage to the Ellettsville Police Department. The video showed someone outside the pantry when the vandalism happened. News 8 reached out to the department for more information about the crime but did not hear back.

Ellettsville is about a hourlong drive southwest of downtown Indianapolis.