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Plywood at the Food Pantry is only temporary . . . A sheet of plywood
blocks the entrance to the Kenmare Food Pantry, located in the alley
behind Nazareth Lutheran Church. The food pantry was the scene
of a break-in late last Wednesday night,
when the intruder destroyed the door to the facility.
Food Pantry damaged during break-in
By Caroline Downs
The Kenmare Food Pantry is still operating, despite the fact the entrance had to be covered by plywood last Thursday.
That plywood provides a temporary fix for the pantry’s door, which was kicked in and destroyed during a break-in that occurred sometime late on the evening of August 14th or early during the morning of August 15th.
“I met a police officer there about 2:00 am,” said Jane Kalmbach, Kenmare Food Pantry coordinator.
Kalmbach said a witness happened to hear a noise in the alley. The individual noticed lights on in the food pantry and called the Kenmare Police Department. According to Kalmbach, the same individual also reported a male, wearing a dark sweatshirt, running down the alley where the food pantry is located.
Kalmbach is cooperating with the police department as officers investigate the incident.
When she was called to the building, she feared seeing cereal, pasta and the contents of canned fruits and vegetables strewn across the floor and walls. However, items on the shelves were hardly disturbed. She also said the filing cabinet containing all the paperwork related to the pantry’s clients was not damaged or even opened that she could see.
“A few things were knocked off the table,” she said. “The main mess came from a can of chicken noodle soup he had eaten from and spilled on the floor.”
A package of meat was removed from one of the freezers and a sealed container of coffee was opened, but the intruder appeared most interested in a product that was packed away and stored behind other boxes.
“He took some out of the boxes,” said Kalmbach. “We don’t just hand it out on a regular basis, but we do set a bottle or two out each month with other personal care items and tell people to take it if they need it. Somebody knew it was there.”
“They were probably looking for something like Sudafed or any other cold medicine they could find,” added Kenmare Police Chief Gary Kraft.
A bottle of perfume, recently received in a donation, also caught the intruder’s eye because that disappeared, along with a package of chewing gum. Pieces of the gum were scattered along the alley, possibly dropped when the individual ran from the premises.
“You could tell he was in a hurry,” Kalmbach said.
She realizes the intruder could have been someone served by the pantry, or a friend or relative of one of the regular clients. “We’re there as a service,” she said. “Was this person drunk or on drugs when he kicked in the door?”
She continued, “It’s not that they were starving or getting food for their children. I had a bag loaded with groceries, sitting there on the table. They could have grabbed the handles and walked out with it, but they didn’t touch it.”
Damages start at $1000
The Kenmare Food Pantry is located in the alley behind Nazareth Lutheran Church, on church property. Because the repair work will have to be coordinated with the church’s insurance company, Kalmbach was uncertain about damage estimates. She noted a steel door to replace the wooden one kicked in by the intruder would cost at least $1,000 and would have to be ordered from Fargo Glass & Paint Co., with additional installation costs expected.
Pastor Michon Weingartner of Nazareth Lutheran Church added that church leaders were discussing options for installing motion sensor lights and security cameras on the facility.
Until the door can be replaced, the food pantry entrance is sealed with a sheet of plywood. Kalmbach is frustrated about the lack of quick access to the pantry for individuals or families who may need assistance. “My biggest concern is how to get food for someone who suddenly needs some,” she said. “I feel closed off from the pantry.”
The food pantry serves an average of 30 families every month, according to Kalmbach. “The biggest percentage are elderly people on fixed incomes,” she said. “About 25 percent are families with young children, and about 95 percent of those are working and just not making it. The cost of groceries, the total cost of living around here, has gone up.”
Kenmare Food Pantry
will be open
as usual Sept. 9th
The Kenmare Food Pantry has distributed food on the second Monday of each month for nearly two decades. “Only two times in the 17 or 18 years we’ve been open have I had to cancel,” said Kalmbach. “We have almost three weeks before we hold our next distribution.”
She intends to open the food pantry as usual on September 9th, the second Monday of the month, from 11 am to 12:30 pm.
“My hopes are to have a new door by then,” she said.
According to Kraft, the investigation into the break-in is pending. “We’re following up on leads,” he said.
Anyone with further information or knowledge about the incident is asked to contact the Kenmare Police Department at 385-4411.