Vandals damage Middletown food pantry’s delivery van

Vandals are creating a “terrible hardship” to a Middletown food pantry just as its busiest season begins.

Maurice Maxwell, executive director of Family Service of Middletown, said over the weekend someone smashed the windshield of the pantry’s delivery truck while it was parked near Verity Parkway. The windshield suffered major damage and will need to be replaced, he said.

Now, until the windshield is replaced, food will be picked up and delivered to the pantry using smaller vehicles, according to Maxwell.

Since the pantry moved to 555 N. Verity Parkway, a former Ponderosa location, and opened in March, Maxwell said vandals have broken into the building and shed twice, stealing food and tools, and smashed out windows in the van twice within the last month. The first time, he said, replacing the passenger side window cost $150.

He said the pantry has insurance and a $500 deductible.

As Maxwell was surveying the damage, a client, John Tremblay, 44, of Middletown, walked through the parking lot, waiting to receive his Thanksgiving basket. He was upset that someone targeted the pantry.

“That’s just wrong,” he said. “This place never has hurt nobody.”

Maxwell said he has filed reports with the Middletown Division of Police but no arrests have been made. He said a security camera is being installed around the perimeter of the building.

The measure, he said, is another unnecessary expense. That money, and the cost of replacing the windows, could be better spent on the clients, Maxwell said

“We are really disappointed with what we see here,” Maxwell said while standing in front of the truck.

He had a message to those committing the crimes: “If there is an issue, they can always come in and speak to us. To take it out on the vehicle just doesn’t make sense. We are here to serve this community and we think we do a fairly good job with that.”

So far this year, the pantry has served 15,379 people in 6,819 households, he said.

On Tuesday, 215 residents were given Thanksgiving baskets, down from the 275 who were assisted last year. Maxwell said sponsorship of families is down. He said 98 families were sponsored and Family Service of Middletown assisted 117 families.

He’s hoping more sponsors step forward in time for the pantry’s Christmas gift program.

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