LUNCHTIME hamburgers were just about to hit the grill at St. Andrew's United Church Sept. 27 when the volunteer cooks ran into a glitch - their new barbecue had been stolen.
"I was so upset," said Lizz Lindsay, the volunteer co-ordinator of Sharing Abundance, a North Shore group that provides a free weekly lunch for the homeless and others on limited incomes at the church on St. Georges Avenue in North Vancouver.
"We feed about 60 people every week. That's a lot of people waiting for lunch."
For the past four years, the non-profit group has been serving up lunchtime fare of soups and sandwiches at St. Andrew's every Thursday. The group relies on donations from local United and Anglican churches, legions, the North Shore Community Foundation and some corporate sponsors, operating on a limited budget.
This summer, said Lindsay, the group decided to go out on a limb and raise money to buy a barbecue to offer some variety in lunchtime fare.
They paid almost $300 for a portable barbecue. Last Thursday, the chef had unloaded the barbecue from his car and set it up just outside the kitchen for the group's second cookout of the season.
Instead, someone managed to swipe it before volunteers could even turn it on. Once they realized what had happened, some of the lunchtime customers raced out to do a quick check of neighbouring blocks, but the barbecue was nowhere to be found, said Lindsay.
"We hadn't thought about security until now," said Lindsay. "For us that's a lot of money that could go into sandwich fillings."
Lindsay said she managed to save the meal by racing home and grabbing her own barbecue from her porch.
But she's been left disheartened by the theft. "We really don't have a steady source of income," she said.
Lindsay, who also co-ordinates a dinner program at North Lonsdale United Church on Tuesday evenings, said she's hoping someone who knows where the barbecue is, or who supports the group's goals, might return or replace it.
"It was very easy for someone to take," she said. "But there are ripple effects. It's an essential program in our community."