Yolo Food Bank seeking donations to repair delivery truck stolen before Thanksgiving

Yolo Food Bank faces $15,000 in repair costs following the theft of its refrigerated delivery truck last week. Courtesy photo

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The Grinch paid an early visit to Yolo County last week, stealing a Yolo Food Bank truck while its driver gathered food destined for families in need.

“It was absolutely the wrong thing to happen the day before Thanksgiving,” Joy Cohan, YFB’s director of philanthropic engagement, said of Wednesday’s theft outside the Woodland Costco store.

Although police soon recovered the refrigerated box truck — purchased four years ago following a Davis-based community fundraising effort — by then it had sustained $15,000 worth of damage. It also contained food boxes already packaged for 150 families that had to be scrapped due to possible contamination.

“It’s a complication no one needs this time of year, especially during a pandemic,” Cohan said.

The truck — named the “Heidi-Renee” after Davis philanthropists Heidi Smith and Renee Dryfoos, who co-organized the 2016 fundraising campaign — was taken at about 6:45 a.m. Wednesday after its driver stopped at Costco for a routine grocery-donation pickup.

As Woodland police began investigating the theft, a Yolo Food Bank employee happened to spot the truck abandoned less than 2 miles away at the Home Depot parking lot on East Main Street around 8:15 a.m. By then, the thief was long gone.

But he or she left significant damage in their wake, including a controller for the truck’s crucial refrigeration unit, which accommodates the transport of perishable foods, that was torn from the dashboard.

So far, two donors have come forward to help offset the repair costs, but more is needed. Others who would like to contribute can do so on Yolo Food Bank’s website, yolofoodbank.org/donate-covid-19/, or by mailing a check to its offices, 233 Harter Ave., Woodland CA 95776.

Meanwhile, the theft investigation remains ongoing. Anyone with information is urged to contact the Woodland Police Department at 530-666-2411.

Despite the setback, Food Bank officials say they’re grateful the truck ultimately was found.

“It’s a very special truck,” Cohan said, noting not only its markings that recognize every donor to the fundraising campaign, but also its unique size that fits into locations inaccessible to larger delivery trucks. “It’s an integral part of what we do.”

The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic downtown has the Yolo Food Bank serving about 60,000 families countywide each month. In addition to financial donations, it receives food supplies from more than 100 grocers, retailers, farmers and other distributors.

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