Church left to clean up after piles of rotting food left on north Tulsa property

TULSA, Okla. — Leaders at a local church are cleaning up after a nonprofit meant to be giving out donated food left it all to rot.

The Oklahoma Heartland Heroes Foundation took donated food and let it spoil and rot away for months in north Tulsa near Highway 75 and 66th Street North.

Heartland Heroes left behind large stacks of ballets with hundreds of boxes of donated food sitting outside seen by FOX23 on March 1.

Victor Colbert who runs the nonprofit told FOX23 that when February’s winter weather hit the area, the government gave them excess Farmers to Families food boxes that amounted to more than they could hand out.

However, FOX23 found out the food waste had been going on at least as far back as Sept. 2020.

Colbert says the landlord of the property let the nonprofit temporarily stay behind a nearby church.

The pastors at the church told FOX23 that they tried to help Heartland Heroes, but it didn’t go well, and the odor coming from the back of the property was their first sign of a problem.

In September, the Tulsa Health Department came out and told the nonprofit to remove the food and trash.

The Turley Fire Department also came to the property to put out a fire after they say Heartland Heroes tried to burn rotten food and milk.

Colbert told FOX23 that the church was sabotaging his good work, but the pastors say they just wanted the nonprofit to stop wasting food and clean up the mess behind their church.

The pastors told FOX23 that after eight months, Heartland Heroes left and the church thought all of the rotten food and trash was gone.

Despite the mess outdoor being gone, the church says they found their large storage building still full of rotting food and trash. They say the nonprofit tore down walls inside the building which was now infested with rodents.

The church had plans to transform the building into a food and clothing ministry and call it the Hope Center.

Pastors say the building will have to be gutted, putting them several months behind opening it up.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says they never contracted directly with Heartland Heroes, but their vendors gave the nonprofit food intended to be delivered to families who needed it. The USDA says Heartland Heroes is under investigation.