Rebuilding Garrard County Food Pantry one year after arson fire

Garrard Co Food Pantry.jpg
Posted at 10:26 AM, Nov 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-15 10:43:44-05

LANCASTER, Ky. (LEX 18) — November 14, 2021 is a day that is still clear in the minds of the people of Lancaster and Garrard County.

The day their food pantry went up in flames after an act of arson destroyed everything inside.

Gregory Cash, who’s run the food pantry for the last 15 years, looks back on that day and to how fast everything happened.

“My phone was going crazy. By the time I got there the building was fully engulfed. There was nothing they could do. Nothing could be saved,” Cash said.

It was a disaster that put decades of community service in jeopardy.

The Garrard County Food Pantry has stood since the 1980’s, changing hands of leadership several times but the mission to feed as many as possible remained.

Hundreds of people rely on the pantry’s help on a regular basis.

“It’s very important. The number that comes in here weekly just for produce let alone monthly,” Cash said.

“Then there’s the seniors. There’s 453 seniors that come each month. The numbers are kind of mind blowing in a lot of ways.”

Even as they watched their building burn and many suggested they close down, Cash and his team never waivered in keeping the pantry alive.

It’s resilience that's necessary when on the road to recovery, which they’ve been on for the last year. Recovery has been far from smooth given the effects of inflation on donations.

“Right now we’re having trouble getting canned food. Here we are on Thanksgiving again and trying to push hard to make sure everybody gets a turkey and canned food and boxed food. Enough to sustain them through the holidays until we get back,” Cash said.

The holiday season is a prominent time for food pantries which gives a greater since of urgency for volunteers at the pantry.

However, it’s not getting them down.

Cash has a dedicated group of workers ready to do whatever they can to keep people from going hungry.

“Hunger doesn’t know an age or anything else. It doesn’t stop just because of a tragic situation,” Cash said.

“We’re not going to quit, we’re going to be here. We’re going to be right here doing everything we can.”

The Garrard County Food Pantry has moved into a temporary building to help the team store all of their food and supplies.

The building is located at 103 Baker Street in Lancaster.