Entirely all the contents of the Meals on Wheels walk-in freezers and refrigerators were lost over the weekend after vandals broke into their Minnow Lake Place office and kitchen, causing between $15,000 and $20,000 in damages.
Flipping over shelves and leaving freezer doors open, everything inside the units became spoiled or compromised. A wedding catering contract was impacted and come Monday, the organization raced to temporarily replace food stocks so that some 150 individuals in Sudbury would receive their relied-upon meals.
Local law enforcement is requesting the public's assistance in reporting any suspicious activity in the area of 1127 Bancroft on the evening of July 20 to Greater Sudbury Police.
Angèle Gladu, manager of operations at Meals on Wheels said that only a cheese and meat tray were stolen from their office and kitchen and that the motivation behind the break and enter appears to have been malicious in intent.
An estimated $15,000 to $20,000 in food inventory and supplies stock were lost due to compromise or food spoilage.
"It was to strike us at the heart of our operations, which is the kitchen," Gladu said.
When weekend staff members arrived for their shifts in the Meals on Wheels kitchen on Saturday, huge puddles of water created by food starting to thaw was the first thing that they saw. Then, they noticed fridge and freezer doors were propped open.
"When they opened and looked into the fridge and freezer, they noticed that they had been completely turned upside down. The food had been thrown off the shelves," Gladu said. "We're not really sure what the intent of that was other than to destroy our food source and effect our ability to fulfil our contracts and serve the meals we provide on a daily basis."
Staff members are not aware of any malicious intent toward the organization.
While the cause and culprits behind the vandalism are being sought, businesses, organizations and community members have rallied support for Meals on Wheels in hope that they could get their menu back on schedule as soon as possible.
True Steel Security donated a security system, while Turfscapes landscaping donated funds to cover the cost of installation. Both companies showed their support quickly: the facility was assessed for security products within 48 hours of the break-in. Crystal Ayers, the co-ordinator of social enterprise at Meals on Wheels, has worked overtime and co-ordinated replenishing efforts.
The United Way made a donation of $10,000 in emergency funds to assist the organization and Allstate Insurance has donated $1,000, Gladu said. Where members of the community have not been able to make monetary donations, they've called to donate their time, and in some cases, vegetables from their garden.
Gladu and the staff at Meals and Wheels have been deeply touched by the community response in Sudbury.
"The malicious intent that was intended with the break-in, they weren't successful," Gladu said. "They've made us realize how our mission, our vision and what we do on a daily basis, is important to our community. Although they intended to hurt us in a malicious way, they actually energized us and made us stronger. Not only as an organization, but as a community."