Charity: Thieves stealing childrens’ lunch money

People are stealing donations that are used to purchase school lunches for less fortunate children in the Cayman Islands.

“I got a call from the owner of Burger King last week who said ‘did you know your donation boxes were gone?’” said Feed Our Future Chairwoman Stacey VanDevelde.

The charity Feed Our Future is a non-profit association that essentially pays for, or helps pay for, school meals for children in both public and private schools that qualify for assistance. Mrs. VanDevelde said that the charity now has a roster of 157 children that it feeds daily.

It wouldn’t be able to do that without funds left in the donation boxes in locations like the Burger King restaurants. “The boxes there do really well, it’s a pretty steady means of income,” said Mrs. VanDevelde. “People put a lot of money in. Sometimes we get $5, $10 bills. I’ve taken $25 bills out at times.”

Since last summer, the charity boxes have been stolen four times from Burger King establishments. Twice at the Walkers Road location, and twice last week from downtown George Town. The most recent thefts occurred on 26 March and were taken from the waterfront and Seven Mile Beach restaurant locations, she said.

“The thief was captured on video, same person [in] both places, and has been identified,” Mrs. VanDevelde said.

Last summer’s thefts at the Walkers Road location forced the charity to remove the boxes from there. Now, Mrs. VanDevelde said Feed Our Future is considering whether it should continue doing it at other locations.

The charity works with schools to identify areas where there is need. The government has its own school lunch programme as well, but funding for social services has been reduced during recent lean budget times.

“There are children that the schools point out to us that are going hungry,” she said.

In those cases, Feed Our Future will be presented with bills from the school and pay out of the funds collected by the charity for the needy school children. If those monies are stolen, the charity obviously has less to operate with.

“This action [referring to the four thefts] is just a disgrace,” she said. “Not to mention that someone would do this, or keep doing it, to the children in the own country. The person[s] are probably stealing from the hand that feeds a child in his community or family.”

According to Feed Our Future, more than 15 per cent of students enrolled in local government schools receive some lunch assistance.

“Many more children in our schools, both public and private, are in need,” according to the group’s website. “Their families have just not asked for or received help. A large number of Cayman’s teachers report that they regularly purchase food for students in their classroom who are not getting enough to eat at home.

“If children do not eat, they cannot learn.”

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18 COMMENTS

  1. Now Ms. Vandevelde will you be so very honest and disclose what country this thief came from that was stealing the money? . It is high time Caymanian natives stop getting blame for these things.

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  2. Person was identified, did I read this correct? So is it not considered stealing from legal perspective? Or why nothing is said about person being prosecuted? I think there should be some explanation be put in the article on that.

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  3. Personally, I don’t really care what nationality the individual is, the bottom line is what they are doing is irreprehensible. I would like to see his/her name published so that person would be shamed in front of their friends, family, and neighbors in addition to any punishment enacted by the legal system. Or take it even further and make him or her go work helping to prepare and serve these meals for the kids he/she was stealing from. Community Service! Maybe he/she will think twice about doing this again in the future.

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  4. @Hunter…who cares??? Really? You think that matters??? What difference will knowing that make?

    Maybe the boxes could be made out of something a bit more durable like a wooden box that is fixed to a counter or something. Perhaps a friendly neighborhood carpenter could donate his/her time and materials? Any nationality will do!

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  5. Really Now. That was just the answer I had expected, that’s why I asked the question. So the populace of cayman know fully well how you people think. BUT WRONG ANSWER

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  6. This is not shocking, this is new reality. Another thought-it is a shame and embarrassment that such a rich country as Cayman Islands (high GNI per capita)can’t feed their own children and Feed Our Future charity was created. Wrong focus- parents neglect should be the focus of attention.

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  7. Really Now/Hunter,

    The specific nationality does not matter. However, if the individual is a work permit holder or in the country illegally then they can be deported back to their home country.

    This would go a long way to putting a stop to this problem.

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  8. McDonalds has donation boxes for Ronald McDonald House — they are plexiglass and are BOLTED to the counter AND padlocked. That’s the only way to stop people from stealing them. People who steal don’t have ethics. These loose boxes were just too easy to steal.

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  9. Really now, Hunter. Read the article. The person was identified. Hence the remark. Don’t make it into an elephant, the issue is far more serious than anyone’s nationality.

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  10. Must agree with Caymanmermaid.
    The boxes should be padlocked and bolted down.

    But please name the thief and tell us he has been arrested.

    As to Hunter’s comments. What is your basis for assuming it is an expat scumbag rather than a Caymanian scumbag?

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  11. A suggestion :
    Perhaps since the island is relatively small, and the restaurants so few, the money could be collected daily. If the boxes were located on the counter by the cash registers where they could be watched and the money collected daily then I don’t see how the thefts could continue. I think it is much better to fix the problem than remove the boxes if it is indeed helping children.

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  12. scrape the donation boxes, and go right to mise on place, but a bunch of lunch tickets, go right to the school of your choice, give the to the teachers, this way when a student does not have lunch they may provide a ticket. When i have an extra 5.00, and im at the school buying my child a lunch i buy an extra and give to my daughters teacher. She is quite appreciative, and says she wished more parents would follow. So if you wish to do something rather than complain what others are not, be a leader and buy a student a lunch today. You never know when you may not have money in the morning to buy your child a lunch, and you dont get back to the school in time, and a teacher having a lunch ticket will make sure your child gets something to eat.

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