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Canton nonprofit grocery StarkFresh back up and running after theft halted deliveries last week

StarkFresh facebook.jpg
The StarkFresh mobile grocery is back out in the community this week after being suspended last week due to theft of car parts. The vehicle has been repaired and is making its usual stops at apartment complexes, senior centers and hospitals this week, according to StarkFresh.

A Canton nonprofit that delivers groceries to low-income areas is back up and running this week after having to suspend deliveries due to theft of catalytic converters.

The StarkFresh Mobile Grocery Market vehicle has been repaired and will resume its regularly scheduled stops this week, the organization announced on Facebook Tuesday.

The nonprofit brings groceries and fresh produce to underserved areas throughout Stark County, stopping at public housing complexes, hospitals and senior centers.

Last week, staff had to suspend the mobile market after thieves stole catalytic converters from all of the organization’s vehicles - leaving about 100 residents without their regular source of groceries, coordinator Azella Markgraf told Ideastream Public Media.

“It’s a big disservice to the people who rely on our program in order to eat every week,” Markgraf said. “A lot of them can’t get to the grocery store, and so they rely on us, especially for fresh food that they may not be able to get at, for example, the food pantry.”

Some customers do not have proper transportation to get to a grocery store, and many are seniors with mobility issues, Markgraf added. Some choose to pre-order their groceries, so they might have been expecting food that StarkFresh could not deliver last week due to the theft, she said.

In the Facebook post Tuesday, StarkFresh thanked Quality Muffler Shop, a car repair shop in Canton, for trying to find parts from all over the country to get the vehicle repaired in time for deliveries this week.

“Despite the frustration and disappointment of not being able to run our Mobile last week, we are overflowing with gratitude for the wonderful StarkFresh community that has come together to support our work and help us continue fighting hunger in Stark County through the Mobile Grocery Market,” StarkFresh said in the post.

Additionally, many people reached out over the past week offering to donate or volunteer their time to help get the market back up and running, according to the post.

“As a small non-profit, we couldn't serve the community the way that we do without the backing of our friends and neighbors,” StarkFresh said in the post. “The outpouring of support we have received in the past week has absolutely blown us away and we are so incredibly grateful.”

The thieves have not yet been identified.