Gate stolen from Tri-Cities Food Bank over the weekend

KENNEWICK, Wash. — A gate that was set to be installed this week was stolen from the Tri-Cities Food Bank on Sunday.

The expandable gate was meant to help keep volunteers safe. Following recent renovations and the addition of a weather shelter to the Kennewick branch, this gate was meant to close a small gap between the wall and some fencing.

Officials with the food bank say the gate was heavy and required a forklift to move when it was delivered last Thursday. It was also secured behind fencing, leaving their team wondering exactly how someone stole it. There isn’t any security camera footage of the incident.

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“This community, we’re not used to that,” said Executive Director VJ Meadows. “It’s startling to me that people would steal from a food bank.”

The gate is worth about $800. The current insurance policy with the Tri-Cities Food Bank has a deductible of $1000, meaning it’s not immediately replaceable.

“We thought we were getting a gate that would keep our volunteers safe and instead, somebody stole it,” Meadows said. “So now we’re back to square one because it’s too expensive to replace.”

The Tri-Cities Food Bank is currently renovating all three of its locations in Kennewick, Richland, and Benton City. Overall, the projects total $350,000, which are paid for through a combination of grants and fundraising efforts.

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Officials say that the restrictions that came with the pandemic drove these changes to make it safer for volunteers and food bank recipients.

“We might have made these changes within the next five or six years, but instead, it happened all at once,” Meadows said.

The Tri-Cities Food Bank is an immense resource to the community, distributing over 20 tons of food each week. Most of their funding goes to the purchasing of food, leaving little room in the budget for facilities upgrades.

Officials with the food bank ask the community to be on the lookout for second-hand sales of expandable gates on Facebook marketplace or similar sites. If you find something that looks funny, contact the food bank.

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