A 31-year-old Chatham man was arrested after allegedly stealing a bag of meat and assaulting two employees at a Sobey’s grocery store.

The incident took place Friday at 11:15 a.m. at the Sobey’s on Park Avenue West.

Chatham-Kent police say the man was seen filling a bag with about $180 worth of meat and trying to leave without paying. An employee stopped the man and asked to see his receipt for the meat.  The man fumbled in his pocket for a minute then threw the bag of meat at the employee.

As he fled the store, he assaulted two employees while moving them out of his way, according to police. No one was seriously hurt.

"Break and enters and thefts ultimately are a problem here in Chatham-Kent and we know that," says Const. Renee Cowell.

Police say it's a sign of Chatham's tough economic times.

The Chatham-Kent Outreach for Hunger says more than ever people from across the region are in need of food.

“We're up 53 per cent from where we were a year ago," says executive director Brenda Leclair.

Leclair says half the people coming in are children, adding many families are struggling to put food on the table while managing two or three part time jobs.

Officers say after an investigation they found and arrested the alleged meat thief on Sunday at 11:30 p.m. on St. George Street.

He has been charged with theft under $5000, possession of property obtained by a crime under $5000 and assault.  He has been held in custody pending a bail hearing.