Neighbor cleans out community pantry, returns food days later

LOS LUNAS, N.M. (KRQE) – A community’s food pantry was raided, leaving the woman who created it devastated and neighbors outraged. But then, the person who did it turned himself in with an explanation.

Ten miles out, between Belen and Los Lunas, Barbara Trujillo set up a community pantry.

“I wanted it to be totally non-judgmental,” said Trujillo.

She said it’s a free system – take what you need, bring what you can. Trujillo said she came up with the idea for the pantry when she heard kids in the area were going home hungry.

“This pantry, they can come anytime, night or day, it’s always open,” she said.

The pantry is full of non-perishable items, like pasta, peanut butter, and beans along with hygiene products.

But, just one day after the pantry was set up in Las Maravillas, “All of the food was stolen from the pantry and we were just devastated,” said Trujillo.

The culprit left being two notes, one saying “good idea, but not in a residential area”, the other, said everything was taken to a local food pantry.

“He was afraid of vandalism, he thought the neighborhood would go downhill,” said Trujillo.

Neighbors expressed outrage, then the man came forward, revealing he was actually a neighbor in the community.

“He admitted what he’d done and he returned the food, all of my neighbors came up and they filled it again, so they filled it twice.” said Trujillo.

News 13 reached out to the neighbor who took, then returned the food. He didn’t want to speak with us on camera.

The man said he’s not opposed to food pantries – he just doesn’t want one in his neighborhood. He went on to say, he took the food away for safety reasons, fearing it would bring vandals and crime to his neighborhood.

Trujillo said she won’t let one person’s opinion stop her from doing some good and that since the man returned the food, several people have utilized the pantry.