When Colleen Hermanson returned to work on Jan. 2 after the holidays, she found muddy footprints on the floor — and empty cupboards. The Kaien Anti-Poverty Society (KAPS), which provides free food and services to those in need, had been robbed.
“Our freezers had been emptied as well as the refrigerator. We had turkey, hams, wieners, cheese slices, tubs of butter of margarine. We had hundreds of pounds of canned goods and boxed goods, coffee supplies for our senior citizens, coffee supplies for our regular clients,” Hermanson said. “It was very disturbing … They took the tin foil roll out of the box. Bags of cereal were removed from their boxes, which were left behind. The same with the granola bars.”
KAPS had just received a large food donation from the Islander Hall Society. Unlike other organizations, KAPS waits until after the holidays to distribute their version of Christmas hampers, but now that food was gone.
“In January, after the Christmas spending has been done, then people are hungry and they are in need. We actually started to put some of the grocery bags together to hand out mid-January. Those bags as well were gone into and the items removed.
“Violated. I don’t think there’s any other word to express other than that,” Hermanson said. “To have an anti-poverty society robbed of so much food.”
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In her 10 years of working with Prince Rupert’s anti-poverty society on McKay Street, Hermanson said they’ve never experienced something like this before.
“We give. If you knock on the door and say you’re in need, we’ll give it to you. But don’t be taking out of the mouths of other people. What was taken wasn’t something that’s going into somebody’s house because they’re in need, it really appeared they were taking it perhaps for resale value.”
Some of the food taken, the coffee in particular, is for the monthly luncheons KAPS hosts at seniors’ homes in Prince Rupert.
The society also provides after-school recreation programs for school-age kids. They can come in to play board games, use the computer, help themselves to a healthy snack and get help with homework if they need it. Sometimes they’ll go hiking, and on Mondays the society offers a swim program for families.
“I would say that there is a tremendous need for support services such as ours. We offer what is called the food recovery or the food share program seven days a week, and never has a day gone by when there hasn’t been people asking or standing by for a bag of the fresh produce that we have to offer,” Hermanson said.
“At this point, no, we haven’t had to turn people away. But that could be coming soon.”
Anyone who wants to help can do so by donating canned goods, gift certificates to grocery stores or cash so the society can replenish their food supplies. Prince Rupert RCMP are investigating, and ask anyone with information to call 250-627-0700.