Thieves ransack food supplies from Gosfield School intended for children of key workers during coronavirus outbreak
Callous thieves ransacked a school’s vital food supplies, which had been reserved for children of key workers helping to tackle the coronavirus outbreak.
Four freezers full of frozen items, along with dried and chilled food, were taken during the burglary at Gosfield School at the weekend.
The incident, which was captured on CCTV, took place at some point between Friday night and the early hours of Saturday morning.
School registrar Caro Daniels said the team had set aside supplies to provide hot meals for children whose parents were deemed key workers and were, therefore, required to continue attending school during the crisis.
“We had a lot of stock as we knew this was going to happen,” she said. “We have been planning the operation in terms of remote learning and communicating with the families who have to come in.”
While it is unknown if the supplies were deliberately looted due to the current level of panic-buying at supermarkets, Mrs Daniels highlighted that whoever the perpetrators were, she hoped stealing had been considered a last resort.
“I’m not sure what their motive was,” she said. “But I would like to think they were desperate for food to give to their family.”
After the impact of the incident was shared online, the school received an outpouring of support from people offering to donate a range of goods to help replenish the stolen goods.
Expressing the staff’s appreciation, Mrs Daniels said the whole team had been left humbled by the public’s generosity.
“We have been overwhelmed by the response,” she said. “Although it has been awful, the amount of goodwill we have received has been phenomenal.”
Unable to offer a cooked meal to pupils on Monday, staff at the school, which teaches youngsters from nursery age, were forced to ask parents to provide their children with a packed lunch.
Highlighting the increasing pressures imposed on key workers, Mrs Daniels said the timing of the burglary was less than ideal.
“It was just something else to add to their burden,” she said, while adding that the efforts of those required to work during the crisis, such as medical staff and teachers, had not been taken for granted by the community.
“We are trying to help families with critical workers and people want to support those helping with the coronavirus.”
Staff had to make several trips to buy essentials after restrictions were imposed on the number of items allocated per customer at supermarkets as a result of stockpiling across the country.
Before the incident, the school said it had a sufficient supply of food to provide students with meals for at least three months.
“We probably had enough to get us through to the end of term, given the number of children we were serving,” said Mrs Daniels.
Since informing the community of the incident, the school has received donations of essential items, including dried pasta, while supplier School Catering Equipment offered to donate a freezer.
Should the school receive a surplus of items, the team would like to support other groups in the community.
“If we get to the point where we have enough, we will start repaying the lovely gesture and share them with other organisations,” said Mrs Daniels.
Urging people to remain vigilant while panic-buying continues to be a problem across the country, Mrs Daniels said: “We want to raise awareness because we don’t want it to happen to anyone else as this is probably just the tip of the iceberg.”
Anyone with information relating to the incident is asked to contact detectives at Essex Police by calling the non-emergency number, 101, and quoting crime reference number 42-44904-20.
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