CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - (Iowa's News Now) — Since the August 2020 derecho, Bridge Under the Bridge has been serving up a storm. Hot dinners and boxed meals have pumped out of their trailer under the 8th Avenue SW bridge for hundreds of people.
The non-profit has also seen hardship in those nearly two years of giving back. That's because some people just want to take.
"It's just the generator," says Bridgette Williams Robinson. "The generator keeps getting taken."
Robinson says they noticed the latest theft Friday morning. It's the third time someone has snatched their power source.
"I don't know what we're going to be able to do different. chains aren't stopping them, they just cut the chain, cut the lock," she says.
This time, the chain is gone, along with the generator they'd borrowed from a family member.
The recurring theft is making it harder to help people.
"A $5,000 generator, that's a month's worth of food, maybe more. At $200 a day times 30, that's $5,000," Robinson says. "That's how many less meals we can provide."
There is a box on the front of the trailer that could house a generator, but Robinson says it's not the best solution.
"A generator is like 800 pounds, so you'd have to pick it up and put it in there every single night," she says. "It's kind of a pain. You know, that's a lot."
The weight of having to pick up the cost or ask for help is heavy too.
"I don't know. I don't know how it makes me feel," Robinson reflects. "I feel like it's wrong because people are taking advantage of a good thing but I also don't want to have to keep depending on the city or people who support us to replace it, but then every time we have to replace it it takes away from things we can help the city with."
Help is in demand right now, Robinson says. They'd recently hit a lull of around 85 people served every day. That number's now up to 150.
"Prices of everything going up, food prices, gas prices. Everything is just, it's not stable anymore," Robinson says. "We're actually seeing an increase in people who come and get meals from us,"
For now they're asking for a fix to keep their property where they need it.
"An indefinite solution, so we don't have to keep dealing with this strain," she says. "It's a headache we shouldn't have to deal with."