Monday morning, news broke that someone had stolen a food truck from Plano-based Minnie’s Food Pantry. As the pantry’s founder, Cheryl “Action” Jackson explained in a Facebook Live video, their staff has been working overtime during COVID-19, as more and more people need their help. Easter weekend was the first break they’d taken in weeks.
But they returned Monday morning to find that the truck they intended to use to deliver meals to 90 seniors in assisted living apartments was gone. It had been stole early Saturday morning.
After reporting it to the Plano police, Minnie’s founder Cheryl “Action” Jackson also posted about it on her personal Facebook. She wrote that she felt devastated and violated, and asked the community to keep a look out. Slowly, the post began to go viral. Her post and video were shared first a hundred times, then two hundred, then three hundred, and continued climbing, as news outlets began reporting it. The truck couldn’t be mistaken, with Minnie’s logo on both sides: an apple in the shape of a heart.
Supporters were outraged. In a way, Jackson said to me in a phone call, it’s like the whole community they serve had been robbed.
But then Tuesday afternoon, it was found.
“We’ve been dancing all morning,” Jackson says.
Their trucks, one of which was donated by Ellen DeGeneres, are in use every day. Jackson estimates that a single box truck like the one that was stolen could carry thousands of meals across the community throughout its lifetime. The pantry has been open for 12 years this April, and in that time, Jackson says, they have served over 4 million meals.
One community member was watching NBC 5 when they reported the story of the stolen truck. He was so moved that he contacted Minnie’s right away. His company has a fleet of trucks, and he offered to donate one to the food pantry. When he walked out to get his truck where it was parked in a secluded lot next to Motel 6 (near the 500 block of E. Central Parkway), he was surprised to find Minnie’s truck parked right next to it, easily recognizable due to the apple heart logo brightly painted on the side.
“His name is Joseph, like the father of Jesus,” Jackson says and laughs. “Right after Easter.”
She alerted the Plano Police Department right away, and they went to pick up the truck themselves with a crime scene investigator collecting fingerprints and other evidence.
“That morning, the detective said to me, ‘We’re going to find it,”” she says. “I want to thank them, and every person who shared our story. Eyes were everywhere because of this community. I know without a doubt if we had not had so much social media, we could not have found it.”
The original post was shared thousands of times. Media outlets across North Texas reported on it, and Jackson says she received a flood of positive emails and support, along with donated trucks and volunteers offering to help with deliveries. During their busiest season ever, the community’s response seemed to her to be a miracle.
Jackson figures the culprit might have seen all the press that began circulating with the news of the stolen truck and dumped it. “He might have turned on the TV and realized he took the wrong truck,” she says.
Or perhaps he was simply staying at the Motel 6 near the parking lot where the truck was found.
As for his motive, some have speculated on Facebook that it was taken to be stripped for parts, or perhaps the responsible party hoped to find food inside. Jackson is leaving those questions to the detectives. It doesn’t matter to her what he intended to do with it.
“I know what he didn’t get to do,” she says. “This is a truck with a purpose. Today we’re going out to serve our seniors with it. This is a happy ending.”