FoCo nonprofit asks for help after $20,000 worth of equipment stolen from its property

Justine Lookenott

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The home of Meals by Grace's aquaponics farm before its development in 2017(Image by Meals by Grace)

(Forsyth County, GA) Another Forsyth County non-profit has become the victim of theft this summer.

Stephen Daniels, the co-founder of Meals by Grace, said a tractor and mower went missing off of their property on 6405 Bennett Road sometime last weekend. The incident report was filed with the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office on Monday, July 11.

It is a combined loss of $20,000 for the non-profit.

Meals by Grace provides free food to North Georgia families experiencing food insecurity. It is funded by donations.

The theft

In the incident report, Daniels said he last remembers seeing the green 2010 John Deere 4100 tractor and the yellow zero-turn lawn mower on Thursday, July 7.

“We used it on Friday so it disappeared on Saturday or Sunday,” Daniels said. “Then we came in on Monday to use it again and it was missing.”

Other than that, he has no idea when the theft occurred or who did it. There were no surveillance cameras.

The report also stated there were no tracks or footprints visible due to recent rainfall. Stacie Miller, the public information officer for the Sheriff’s Office, confirmed that they are investigating the case.

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A John Deere tractor and a mower were stolen from Meals by Grace over the weekend of July 9(Image by Getty Images)

Originally used to grow produce through its aquaponics farm, the organization put the property up for sale a few months ago and expects to close on it in August.

But Angie Breindl, the local support coordinator, said they still have to keep the land maintained for the neighbors and new owners prior to the sale.

“We had all the equipment there to do maintenance,” Breindl said. “We had some people out there cleaning up some debris yesterday morning for a few hours, and we need to do the mowing. And we can't do that now without our equipment.”

Meals by Grace had also planned to use the tractor at its pantry site on Keith Bridge Road to move products from the paved area across the gravel parking lot to storage.

Daniels said they had never experienced a theft before.

“We've had no theft of any significance that we've noticed,” Daniels said. “We're a food pantry, we give food away for free. All you have to do is ask, we'll give it to you.”

How to help

In the meantime, Meals by Grace is in need of donations to purchase new equipment and volunteers to help keep the property clean.

“The good news is I just got an offer to loan us a mower so we can mow the property,” Daniels said. “We have a closing, on August the first we're selling the property…so we are selling the property so we can purchase a place where we can actually build our campus where zoning is appropriate. That's really a great blessing that they'll let us get this mowed and we're in the process of doing cleanup. So instead of being able to use the tractor to lift a lot of stuff, a lot of volunteer man-hours [will be] put in the dumpster.”

Other than that, Daniels said they are trying to spread news of the theft to the public in case anyone happens to find the missing equipment.

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A volunteer works at the Meals by Grace aquaponics farm in 2021(Image by Meals by Grace)

Another non-profit, Creative Enterprises, also experienced theft last month when two catalytic converters were stolen off of their vehicles on two separate occasions. The second theft was caught on a surveillance camera. The Cumming Police Department is investigating those crimes.

For more information on Meals by Grace, visit mealsbygrace.org. Donations can be made here. Information concerning volunteer opportunities can be found here.

If you have a news tip in Forsyth County, contact Justine Lookenott at justine.lookenott@newsbreak.com.

To learn more about thefts from non-profits in Forsyth County, read “Thieves target cars in Forsyth County for one particular part, hitting businesses and nonprofit group.

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I cover local news in Forsyth County, GA. My debut into the writing world began at the age of 10 when I won an essay contest in Around Acworth Magazine in which I wrote about spending the summer with my pet goat, Eclair. Since graduating from Kennesaw State University, I have been published in several newspapers and magazines in the Atlanta area including The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Atlanta School Guide, What Now Atlanta, Newcomer Magazine, the Marietta Daily Journal and the Cherokee Tribune.

Forsyth County, GA
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