Roughly a dozen police officers guarded dumpsters full of food at a Portland, Oregon, Fred Meyer grocery store Tuesday as people had tried to scrounge for food that had been thrown away.
The Oregonian reported that on Tuesday, Fred Meyer employees at a store in the northeast part of the city tossed out thousands of items deemed unfit for consumption.
The store was one of several that lost power during the winter storm that hit the area last weekend.
As of Wednesday, more than 150,000 people remain without power in the greater Portland area, the Associated Press reported.
Fred Meyer told KOIN that the food was discarded “out of an abundance of caution.” But the situation caused an uproar when news of the store’s decision to discard the perishable food circulated on social media.
go snag some free food if you can get to the Hollywood Fred Meyer in Portland yall pic.twitter.com/Fv86mvNWrB
— The Important Project (@mr1mportant) February 16, 2021
“Unfortunately, due to loss of power at this store, some perishable food was no longer safe for donation to local hunger relief agencies,” the company wrote on Twitter.
“Our store team became concerned that area residents would consume the food and risk foodborne illness, and they engaged local law enforcement out of an abundance of caution. We apologize for the confusion,” the statement continued.
Dozens of people showed up to take the discarded food around 2:30 p.m. Tuesday and refused to leave when store workers asked them to go. So employees called the cops. Nobody showed up at first.
By the time the police arrived at the scene, 50 people showed up, and police threatened to arrest the crowd for trespassing.
Eventually, the officers left, and people dived into the dumpsters to take their share of the items.
Police said Fred Meyer employees called them again as more people came back on the property to confront store employees, but police said they would not come back unless there was a threat to someone’s life or serious bodily injury.