The director of the Statesboro Food Bank is offering a $500 cash reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of whoever has been breaking in and stealing food.
Joe Bill Brannon, who offers the reward from his own pocket and not from Food Bank funds, said he suspects the culprit is someone who may have been court-ordered to volunteer at the Food Bank, and he believes the thief is selling the stolen food because the amount taken is far more than a hungry family would need, he said.
Brannon said someone broke in "about a month and a half ago," and more recently, someone invaded the charitable organization's facility Thursday and "sometime between Friday and Monday."
Statesboro police Cpl. Justin Samples said police detectives are investigating the case.
It appears someone intentionally left a window unlocked in an unused children's bathroom inside the old Julia P. Bryant Elementary School building, which houses the Food Bank.
Brannon said that since that discovery, checks are conducted nightly before closing. But over the weekend, whoever broke in shattered a window to gain entry, he said.
An employee saw the offender during a recent burglary but was unable to identify or stop them, Brannon said. The witness saw the unknown person using the facility's grocery cart to carry a load of food between wings of the building but could provide no other information, he said.
There is never any money left in the building and no way to accurately estimate how much food has been stolen, Brannon said.
There is no current shortage of food at the Food Bank, but the need for donations is constant to maintain an adequate supply to feed the hungry in the area, he said.
Anyone with information about the thefts is asked to call Brannon at (912) 682-4144 or the Statesboro Police Department at (912) 764-9911.
All tips will remain anonymous, Brannon said.
"If the (person responsible for the burglaries) is hungry and trying to feed their family, I will take that into consideration," he said.
However, he said the amount of food stolen indicates the culprit maybe selling the stolen food.
"They are taking food away from people who need it," he said, adding that families in true need of food can apply at the Food Bank for assistance.
In addition to donations of food, the Statesboro Food Bank relies on monetary donations to pay utility bills and to purchase food items that are not donated, Brannon said.
A recent $5,000 gift from the SpartanNash Foundation, formed with the merging of the Nash Finch Company and Spartan Stores, will fund over two months' worth of power bills, he said.
The donation is also enough to purchase 1,000 cases, or 24,000 cans, of food, he said.
The Statesboro branch of SpartanNash gave the Statesboro Food Bank the donation Tuesday morning. Operations Manager Wendell Ellis and Princeton Brinson, merchandiser, presented the donation to Brannon at the Food Bank on Donnie Simmons Way.
According to a press release issued by the company, the donation is one of 19 made across the nation on behalf of the company's distribution sites.
"The SpartanNash Foundation has three areas of focus — hunger, shelter, and patriotism," said Meredith Gremel, vice president of corporate affairs and communications and executive director of the foundation. "We are proud to report that over the past ten years our distribution centers have donated nearly $1 million dollars to community food bank and pantry partners in the communities we serve, in addition to donating millions of pounds of food."
Holli Deal Saxon maybe reached at (912) 489-9414.