Police: Vandals destroy donations at Red Lion-area food pantry for third time

Harper Ho
York Dispatch

A food pantry near Red Lion that was created to help those in need during the COVID-19 pandemic has been vandalized for a third time, police said.

Food dropped off in the Little Free Food Pantry's collection box was dumped and destroyed three weeks in a row, founder Jerry Pilachowski said Wednesday.

"We think they're deliberately doing it. We don't know (why). We have no idea," he said. "They're throwing it everywhere." 

Police said Little Free Food Pantry was vandalized for a third. March 3, 2021

Volunteers thought it was an accident the first time it happened, since people throw food into the collection bin sometimes, Pilachowski said. 

"The second time, we're sorta wondering, and then the third time, that's when we called the police," he said. "We're sure somebody is doing something. I'm just hoping to catch somebody this week."

The food pantry is located in the parking lot of Living Word Community Church, 2530 Cape Horn Road in York Township.

The most recent vandalization happened about 8:15 p.m. Feb. 23, according to a York Area Regional Police Department news release. Police Chief Tim Damon couldn't be reached for comment Wednesday.

Pilachowski said about $100 worth of products were destroyed each time, and the perpetrators struck after hours.

"I really would like to catch the person or people doing it," Pilachowski said.

Founder Jerry Pilachowski said about $100 worth of donated food got destroyed each time the drop-off box was vandalized. March 3, 2021.

Helpers had planned to stake out the pantry to catch the culprits, but "somebody had already dumped the stuff" by the time they got there, Pilachowski said.

It's not the first time Little Free Food Pantry has faced trial and tribulation since its inception in March 2020.

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The pantry, which is housed inside a donated shipping container, relocated to the church lot in July from Pilachowski's front yard after York Area Regional Police received complaints from other residents.

Little Free Food Pantry founder Jerry Pilachowski, left, shows donors Candace Day and Tommy Fink, both of Red Lion, the shipping container that houses the pantry on Cape Horn Road in Windsor Township Tuesday, June 16, 2020. Due to complaints about traffic along the road, the stand will be closing. Bill Kalina photo

Kipp Allison, the zoning officer for Windsor Township, said last year the primary gripe  was that the food pantry's location caused safety and traffic concerns.

Living Word Community Church offered space in its parking lot, and the pantry has been operating there since then.

Pilachowski said the pantry will probably close permanently when its permit expires in June because both need and volunteers have decreased.

"It's just a sad thing. You try to do good and well, I mean, even when we were here in front of my house, people would complain because I was doing it in front of my house," he said. "We get down to the church. We're so far off the road now people don't see us as much. It was one of the things that hurt us a little bit."

Kristina Kreeger of Lovettsville, Va., left, shops with her sister Julie Hivner of Windsor at the Little Free Food Pantry on Cape Horn Road in Red Lion Tuesday, April 21, 2020. Kreeger was staying with her sister who was recuperating from surgery. The pantry, created by Jerry Pilachowski and situated in front of his home and business, has been providing food for the community for over three weeks. Hivner said she is currently out of work. A GoFundMe page for the pantry is at https://bit.ly/3eHgF77. Bill Kalina photo

The pantry is in the back of the Living Word Community Church parking lot and is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday.

Little Free Food Pantry can be reached at 717-495-6371.