Portland nonprofit’s vans stolen, trashed

Published: Jun. 3, 2022 at 8:19 PM PDT
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PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) - Dozens of cars are stolen around Portland just about every day, but one recent theft comes as a big blow to both a nonprofit and those who rely on hot meals.

Two large service vans were stolen from Potluck in the Park over the weekend. The nonprofit serves hot meals once a week to anyone who is hungry or needs some extra help.

Volunteers use the vans to transport meals and other supplies from its kitchen in southwest Portland to the pop-up location where they serve meals in northwest Portland.

Lead volunteer Lacey Allen told Fox 12 that another volunteer noticed the missing vans Sunday morning when he arrived to finish meal prep at the kitchen.

Inside the vans were thousands of dollars of supplies like canopies, tables, tents and kitchen equipment.

“it was discouraging because as you can see, there’s no doubt in our mission, so whoever took the vans likely saw what was written on the vans and knew, we’re here as a nonprofit,” Allen said. “We’re here to serve warm meals to those in need and to think people completely disregarded it and still took them anyway is really discouraging for us.”

The timing couldn’t have been worse either: the discovery came just hours before guests would arrive for the dependable, hot bite that Potluck in the Park has been serving for decades.

“How do we make this meal happen?” Allen said. “I called several of our regular volunteers…they came to the kitchen immediately and started loading things up into their personal cars to take over to where we serve – slowly made trips back and forth to get over there.”

Allen said both vans were recovered less than 24 hours later. Both were missing their catalytic converters. One van had other damage, the other was completely stripped.

A GoFundMe account to replace the vans and equipment has already raised thousands of dollars. You can find more information here.

Allen said the community support so far has been amazing.

“It’s just been reassuring and heartwarming to see the community support us and want us to continue our mission to provide a nutritious meal to the community,” Allen said.