HAMPTON, Va. - It's a big mission that added a little muscle last year.
The Virginia Peninsula Foodbank purchased a new Dodge Ram pickup truck with CARES Act money, along with four refrigerated trailers, to help deliver produce and meat to hungry families.
"It's providing a lot of help to get more nutritious food out all throughout the community," said the foodbank's Chief Executive Officer Karen Joyner.
That is, until Tuesday, July 5th.
Joyner and her staff returned to find the catalytic converter stolen from the truck.
Losing the exhaust-cleaning mechanism affects vehicle performance, and the precious metals inside make converters a target for thieves looking to make some extra cash. The foodbank is just the latest area nonprofit to get hit.
Joyner says she filed a report with the Hampton Police Division, but with one truck not operational, the foodbank has had to get creative to continue its mission.
"We have one other vehicle that's a little bit older that we were able to move some of our trailers around," Joyner said. "We also have staff who have offered to bring their bigger trucks and move trailers around. We have an appointment on Tuesday to get [the truck] fixed."
But the bill is expected to be about $3,000.
"We're able to provide three meals for $1, so that's 9,000 meals that won't go out," Joyner said.
The theft also comes at a time of struggle for Virginia Peninsula Foodbank and other similar organizations in the area. Local pantries that come to collect food are finding slim pickings due to low donation levels.
With the new fiscal year having only started on July 1st, Joyner is already expecting a difficult year.
"Inventory is the lowest level that it's been since February 2019," she said. "We're gonna have to purchase more food. Food costs are up 40 percent, our transportation costs are up 65 percent."
A difficult year made worse by a theft that likely only took a few minutes of effort.
The Virginia Peninsula Foodbank says donations of money will have the most effect right now and while the nonprofit has plenty of canned goods, it's asking for donations of dry goods like cereal, peanut butter, rice and instant potatoes. Click HERE for donation information.