West side food pantry broken into for third time in two weeks

Local News

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — A west side food pantry was broken into yet again and the founder of the non-profit running the pantry said it feels like deja vu because the glass was smashed out of the same door that was damaged 2 weeks ago.

“This is like really scary,” said Zerqa Abid, the founder of My Project USA. “We have been serving this community for five years.”

It was the third time in two weeks that her pantry on Sullivant Avenue was broken into. This time, the owner said nothing seems to be missing.

It happened just days after handing out 100 boxes of food here for Eid, a celebration that marks the end of Ramadan.

Now they are once again picking up the pieces after someone decided to break the glass door and damage items, possibly costing the non-profit thousands of dollars.

“I was disappointed because I didn’t even know when it happened, when the police found out,” said Abid.

She was surprised because a friend who drove by told her. Police were there, but left a card indicating they made a report.

It left Abid with questions about how to safely help this community.

“They stop and they ask me, ‘When are you opening this door? I need something’, because they have gotten used to having this place forever,” said Abid. “They can always walk in, they can ask us for food, for clothes, for anything they needed for their children or for their homes, and now we cannot serve them.”

The founder fears these attacks are targeted at her, her store, or the Muslim community, because there are no other reports of break-ins at other homes or businesses in the area, according to Columbus Police.

Now she’s moving clothing items to her warehouse to keep them safe.

Sgt. James Fuqua with the Columbus Police said, “It’s unusual to have the same business broken into in such a short time span,” and adds that at this time, they cannot classify the break-in as a hate crime since there’s no evidence to prove that.

Right now, Abid said the organization doesn’t have money for a secure steel door, and she hopes increased police monitoring will lead them to the person responsible. 

This pantry will remain closed until it can get some answers from police that helps coordinators feel a little more safe.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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