PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A Portland non-profit helping those most vulnerable in the community, is now asking for the public’s help after their trailer that stores food for hungry families in need was stolen.

Food for Families is rooted within the Centennial High School community, a project designed to feed those in need. With another food distribution planned next week, this theft will make it hard for them to serve.

“There’s no income or address restrictions,” said Ellie Mangum, executive director of Food for Families. “If you self-identify that you need food assistance, we’re more than happy to provide it to you.”

Typically, their mobile food pantry serves area families in need, all from an old school bus. The project started by Centennial High School nearly a decade ago, Food for Families now serves around 80 families every couple of weeks — a need that tripled at the height of the pandemic.

“It varies, kind of depending on the time of the month and time of the year,” said Mangum. “During peak COVID it went as high as 250 families in distribution.”

While shelves line the bus, packed with canned goods and non-perishables, a small trailer houses 15 coolers — 10 large, 5 small — which are reserved for getting fresh food out like meat, produce and dairy.

Portland non-profit Food for Families is asking for the public’s help after their trailer used to store food for families in need was stolen. April 6, 2022 (courtesy Food for Families).

When Mangum went to check on everything over the weekend, the trailer was gone. Based on surveillance video, they believe it was stolen sometime last Thursday. All that remains now is the steering-locked wheel, taken off and thrown under the bus.

“When I came to the bus to grab some stuff, get ready for the week, and noticed that the trailer was missing,” said Mangum. “The trailer was secure because we had a lock on the hitch and a lock on the wheel but they got around those.”

Gresham Police told KOIN 6 News they’re looking into it but haven’t revealed any information on a suspect in the case. In the meantime, Food for Families plans to move forward and feed those in need, as best as they can.

“That’s $3,000 worth of equipment that we would use at every distribution that now needs to be replaced,” said Mangum.

Food for Families says they’re working to get surveillance video from the school and area businesses to pinpoint where it may have been taken. They’re asking anyone with information or those who would like to help, to reach out to them through their website.