Break-in Does Not Deter Sister Jean's Kitchen from Serving Needy

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A mainstay Atlantic City food kitchen was broken into last week, and the suspect or suspects stole hundreds of pounds of donated protein.

“I was thinking it was going to be a happy, fun day doing the kitchen, and instead everyone had really sad, dejected looks on their faces,” said Tracy Allen, a volunteer at Sister Jean’s Kitchen. “I was called aside and was told we were broken into.”

A broken window, damaged equipment, and missing frozen goods were the first things volunteers at Atlantic City’s Sister Jean’s Kitchen saw Wednesday morning.

“We’ve been here since September of 1997 and this is the first break-in we’ve ever had,” said Pastor John Scotland, executive director of Sister Jean’s Kitchen.

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Volunteers whip up critical meals daily to help feed local people in need.

Last week’s break in left them 500 pounds short of fish, pork, and chicken.

Scotland believes the burglars, who have yet to be identified, pushed through a side window, forced themselves into the kitchen, and broke into the multiple refrigerators and freezers for the frozen food.

“There were two shopping carts that we use here to move product around that’s donated to sort,” said Scotland. “They took the two shopping carts, filled them with the product and went out the door onto Pacific Avenue, and I guess got away on foot.”

Several locks and handles were damaged during the break-in.

But despite the hundreds of pounds of food that was stolen, the volunteers have not stopped feeding the needy.

“We never missed a day of feeding,” said Scotland. “That day, Wednesday, lunch went on as regular, and the rest of the week.”

Sister Jean’s Kitchen regularly receives donations through the Community Food Bank of New Jersey’s Southern Branch, and once they heard about the break-in, they stepped up to help replace what was taken.

“To date, since January 1st, we’ve distributed to them over 30,000 pounds of food,” said Richard Uniacke, vice president of the Southern Branch of the Community Food Bank of New Jersey. “It’s not a small amount. For us, they’re a big partner, and it’s really through them that we’re able to help that community in the way that they do.”

In addition to the Food Bank’s help, a GoFundMe page was started by one of the kitchen’s volunteers and has raised over $1,000 to help the nonprofit who helps the community.

“I was just blown away, you know, people care,” said Allen, who started the GoFundMe page. “And there’s hope in humanity, you know, taking care of others and paying it forward, and doing good for people who need it.”

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