A Metro East non-profit is out thousands of dollars after someone stole equipment they use to feed hungry seniors.

Monday morning, Senior Services Plus in Alton learned someone broke into a greenhouse on the organization’s property over the holiday weekend. Inside that greenhouse, SSP grew fresh, organic vegetables to feed hundreds of seniors through the Meals on Wheels program.

Executive Director Jonathan Becker said they realized several pieces of equipment were missing from inside the greenhouse.

“We had it on video, the person came in and they filled up a cart,” he explained. “They took the stuff we really need, the pumps and the systems to run our existing and new hydroponics program. It’s about $3,000-worth of stuff.”

Becker said thieves also stole overhead lights and fans from the greenhouse. They reported the theft to the Alton Police Department, which is now investigating.

Senior Services Plus built the greenhouse about two years ago. Inside, growers can work year-round alongside a small farm also on the property. They grow spinach, lettuce, kale and other leafy greens. The project was funded through grant money, Becker said.

“We started the greenhouse and the farm with the belief that people, even if they have limited economic means, they should have access to organic food.”

Seniors in the Meals on Wheels program get one meal — one third of their daily nutrition — from the meals provided by the organization, Becker explained.

The loss of the greenhouse equipment is painful for this organization, but Becker said community members are already coming forward to help. Like many other non-profits, Giving Tuesday brought generous donations to SSP. One person made a very specific donation.

“I had a lady come in who was really concerned about the greenhouse and the equipment was taken and she gave some money specifically for that,” he said. “When there are tragedies like this, or things happen, people step up. And we’re lucky… it just gives you hope.”

Anyone who wants to help Senior Services Plus, or learn about the other services the organization provides, can contact SSP online or call them at 618-465-3298.