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