By Kevin Robinson

Burglars broke into a Pensacola ministry early Friday morning and stole food meant for a pre-Thanksgiving meal distribution event Saturday.

Sylvia Tisdale, pastor of the Epps Christian Center, said thieves broke in her building on North Pace Boulvard and made off with computers and a bank deposit, emptied her freezers of turkeys and even stole the paper towels.

The ministry was in the midst of prepping for an annual event to feed hungry families when the break-in occurred.

“It’s upsetting they would do us like this,” she said. “I think they saw the free food sign out there, and they knew a lot of stuff was going to be in here.”

Each year, the Epps Christian Center partners with the Council on Aging, Cry Loud-Spare Not Church and the Carver Community Center in Century to provide meals for the needy the Saturday before Thanksgiving.

All of the help at the event comes from volunteers, and the food is purchased with donations from the community. Last year, the groups served 300 meals in Century and 250 meals in Pensacola.

Tisdale came into the small Christian center before dawn Friday to start cooking for about 500 people. She saw items strewn around the building and immediately knew something was wrong. She checked a rear door and saw someone had forced their way into the building.

“My heart went into my stomach,” she said.

Epps Center Pastor, Sylvia Tisdale, questions why thieves would break into her Pace Blvd. building and take turkeys and other food from the center’s freezers. The stolen birds were to be the centerpiece of her annual Thanksgiving dinner for the community.  

Despite the thefts, Tisdale was determined that Saturday’s event would go on. The pastor said Friday that she and the center’s volunteers would take the food they have left and cook through the night if necessary to make it happen –  and they did.

“I made a commitment, and people are expecting me,” Tisdale said. “We’re going to feed them one way or another.”

The ministry began serving food at 10 a.m. at the Epps Christian Center at 2300 N. Pace Blvd. From there, the group traveled to Century to continue the distribution.