The Toni’s Kitchen is now back in action on its unending journey to pick up and deliver food to those in need in our community.

We want to once again thank our community for the incredible outpouring of assistance and support while the van was missing.

Here’s a report from Montclair Local on the recovery of the van:

May 3, 2018


The van stolen from Toni’s Kitchen last week has been found. The suspect who allegedly walked into St. Luke’s Church and stole the keys to the van as well as cash and checks, is still at large.

Essex County Sheriff’s Office found the missing Ford Transit Connect van on 2nd Street near Central Avenue in Newark, said Montclair Police Lt. David O’Dowd on Wednesday.

Toni’s Kitchen is the food ministry of St. Luke’s, providing soup kitchen and food pantry services to clients in need in the area.

The theft took place on the afternoon of April 23. Security video from Toni’s Kitchen showed an unidentified male entering St. Luke’s Church, near the entrance to Toni’s Kitchen, and coming back outside a few minutes later. Then the man entered the Toni’s Kitchen van, which was parked in the parking lot, and drove away on Union Street.

Anne Mernin, the director of Toni’s Kitchen, said she received a call Tuesday night that the van had been found. On Wednesday afternoon, she was on her way to the sheriff’s office to fill out paperwork and then head to the impound lot where the van was being kept. She did not know what condition the van was in. If all went well, she said, she hoped Toni’s Kitchen would have the van back the next day.

“I’m thrilled. I’m very attached to the van, and I was really, really hoping that it would be found,” Mernin said.

The suspect seen in the video is described as a white male with dark hair, between 25 and 35 years of age. At the time of the theft he was wearing a black sweatshirt with red markings, black pants and white sneakers. O’Dowd said Wednesday that he did not have any information regarding the suspect.

On Friday, Toni’s Kitchen issued an appeal to the public for information about the theft. An unspecified amount of money in the form of cash and checks had been taken along with the van, but O’Dowd said that he did not have any information on the amount of money as of Wednesday.

The kitchen relies on the van to make deliveries and to shop for food. In a statement sent to the public, the kitchen said that the van had enabled the kitchen to double its client outreach.

Since the theft, the kitchen had been using a rental van to make deliveries, but has had to deal with the added expense of hiring a driver for the rental.

This is a developing story. Follow the Montclair Local for more information.