UPDATE: four states join together to restock devastated food pantry

Jeep communities from four states brought loads of food to Garrard county.

UPDATE POSTED 5:30 P.M. NOV. 21, 2021

LANCASTER, Ky. (WTVQ) – Last weekend, a fire destroyed the Garrard County Food Pantry and efforts to help the food pantry restock in time for Thanksgiving have now crossed state lines, thanks to the Jeep community.

“In a world full of division, the Jeep community kind of always sticks together and helps everyone,” says Daniel Joseph, founder of “We the Jeeple”.

Jeep enthusiasts from Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana and West Virginia joined forces Sunday morning to give back to those in need. The organizers of Sunday’s dropoff say hundreds of people in their hometowns rallied to donate food for Garrard county and about 30-40 drove in to help unload it all at the Lancaster Police Department.

“You remember like in Batman when they put up the bat? If that was a Jeep that’s pretty much when we go and where we go,” says Joseph. “So if we see something that touches our heart, we make the call or the text and before you know it there’s 100 people here.”

The Jeep crew says they estimate bringing in about 1,400 pounds of food between two trailers and around 30 jeeps full. The group says this amount of food came together in only four days.

“Got a message from Daniel saying that the Lancaster food bank had burned down, is there something we can do? I said yeah, definitely, it’s what we do best, you know it’s family,” says James Sevier, head of Southern Misfits off-roading group.

For some people donating, the cause hits close to home as food insecurity is something they’ve struggled with too.

“I remember my family’s friends bringing over food to help us survive through some lean times and you know, you can say it’s just giving back but it’s just doing the right thing,” says Joseph.

“A lot of people couldn’t afford to buy anything so they came, went to their house and cleaned their cupboards out and took their own food and brought it here for them,” says Mickey Rhodus, co-founder of the Central Kentucky Jeep Crew.

Always ready to help those in need, the Jeep community was glad to be able to support the Garrard County Food Pantry restock.

“If not us, who?” says Joseph.

UPDATE POSTED 4:48 P.M. NOV. 17, 2021

LANCASTER, Ky. (WTVQ) – As the Garrard County Food Pantry continues to recover after a devastating fire, the community is looking to help.

Wednesday, the Kentucky State Police Richmond Post and the Lancaster Police Department kicked off a three-day food drive to collect non-perishable items for the pantry.

“With Thanksgiving and the holidays, families are trying to put food on the table to come together. So we’re just trying to do what we can to support our local community,” said Kentucky State Police Trooper Adam Hall.

According to pantry director Greg Cash, the pantry has been overwhelmed with people wanting to help, both in the community and beyond.

“It’s been a blessing, I’ve never seen so many people rally together so quick…it opens your eyes. It’s more than just the spirit of the holidays. It’s God at work,” said Cash.

Cash says Garrard County Schools offered the pantry a temporary place to store food, he’s received donations from local businesses, and says he’s even gotten calls asking if the pantry needs anything from New Zealand, Australia, New York, Oklahoma, and Texas. That’s just the tip of the iceberg of people, businesses, and communities willing to help.

“It’s like 160 phone calls just today. We had a man come from Lexington just yesterday to bring a deep freeze. So, we’ll…we’ll be okay. It’s just a small stop but we’ll be alright,” said Cash.

On November 22, the pantry still plans on doing its annual Thanksgiving dinner distribution at Lancaster Church of the Nazarene.

“God’s Pantry is bringing a load of stuff for us, Shaker Village just called and they’re bringing an acre worth of fresh produce, and we’ve got people bringing a lot of canned food in. Walmart Distribution Center has donated 400 turkeys, Butterball called last night and they’ve stepped up with 152 gift cards for turkeys, and Bluegrass Community Action is doing 335 gift cards, so I didn’t expect that. That’s over 840 turkeys in dinners that will be handed out Monday,” said Cash.

The pantry is a crucial part of the community, according to Lancaster Police Chief Rodney Kidd.

“The food pantry’s been a staple in this community as long as I’ve been here. And they provide a very important service to the underprivileged and the needy,” said Chief Kidd.

Pantry Co-Director Angela Cash says the pantry is open six days a week, and serves anywhere from 500 to 800 families a month, with November being one of the busiest of the year.

In the meantime, while the pantry looks for another place, Cash and his wife are distributing groceries behind the pantry from their cars.

“After today we’ll figure out what our next step is but we’re continuing to still pick up. Like today, I’m going through weighing everything so I can hand out the few items we did get today to whoever comes through,” said Cash.

The items from the Lancaster Police Department and Kentucky State Police drive will be provided to the Garrard County Food Pantry at the conclusion of the drive on Friday. Monetary donations can be made out to Garrard County Food Pantry by check at the First Southern National Bank in Lancaster.

For more information or ways to donate visit www.godspantry.org or call the Garrard County Food Pantry at (859)339-0615.

UPDATE POSTED 6:05 P.M. NOV. 15, 2021

LANCASTER, Ky. (WTVQ) – The fire that destroyed the Garrard County Food Pantry didn’t come at the best time, as the food pantry says it not only had its Monday senior deliveries to take care of, but its big thanksgiving food drop right around the corner. However, the lost food and damaged building isn’t what the food pantry is most worried about.

“It’s not just the stuff we had for the kid’s Christmas, it’s not the 200 turkeys, it’s 400 seniors, it’s about close to 800 families that we have to worry about,” says Gregory Cash, director of the Garrard County Food Pantry.

God’s Pantry Food Bank says it heard about the fire about an hour after it happened and immediately sprang into action to support Garrard County. God’s Pantry set up a mobile drive Monday to help the local food bank make its deliveries to seniors in need in the area and is working with the Garrard County Food Pantry to restock and get back on its feet.

“We think about this sort of like a disaster response. It’s not a natural disaster, it’s a tragedy, but it’s a disaster,” says Michael Halligan, CEO of God’s Pantry Food Bank. “So we are focused on relief, then we will focus on recovery.”

According to Garrard County court records, Debra Smalling was arrested for starting the fire. The Garrard County Food Pantry says Smalling was a regular there and it came as a shock to learn it was her.

“You wouldn’t expect a 60-year-old woman who weighs 90 pounds to do something like this,” says Cash. “Everybody just pray for her because we don’t know what the underlying issues are. There’s no need to be angry or bitter, just pray.”

Beyond the GoFundMe linked below and the help from God’s Pantry, Kentucky State Police (KSP) will be hosting a three-day food drive to help the food pantry meet the community’s needs. Donations will be collected at the Lancaster Police Department starting Wednesday, November 17th and go through Friday November 19th. KSP recommends the following donations

  • non-expired canned fruits and veggies
  • soups
  • meats
  • macaroni and cheese
  • cereal
  • peanut butter
  • jelly
  • chili or spaghetti sauce
  • brownie and cake mixes
  • coffee
  • water
  • powdered milk’
  • juices

KSP says monetary donations can also be given, made out to the Garrard County Food Pantry. For more information or ways to donate visit www.godspantry.org or call the Garrard County Food Pantry at (859)339-0615.

UPDATE POSTED 8:30 A.M. NOV. 15, 2021

LANCASTER, Ky. (WTVQ) – A GoFundMe page has been set up to raise money for the Garrard County Food Bank which was destroyed by fire Sunday.

Click Here to donate.

Meanwhile a woman has been charged with setting that fire, which was discovered Sunday morning. The motive has not been disclosed.

According to Jessamine County Jail and Garrard County Court records, 60-year-old Debra Smalling was arraigned Monday morning in Garrard District Court on charges of first-degree criminal mischief and second-degree arson. Arrest citations say she was identified on surveillance video. She faces her next court hearing at 9 a.m. Nov. 22.

Smalling, who was sometimes a client of the food bank, is seen on the video walking up to the side of the building and rummaging through some paper and cardboard stacked against the building. The materials caught fire and Smalling admitted to putting a lit cigarette in the “rubbish,” according to the arrest affidavits. The clothing she was wearing when arrested on South Campbell Street at about 6:15 p.m. was the same clothing she was wearing in the video, according to the affidavits.

ORIGINAL STORY POSTED 6 P.M. SUNDAY, NOV. 14, 2021

LANCASTER, Ky. (WTVQ) – The Garrard County community is suffering Sunday, after a fire destroyed the Garrard County food pantry….

According to Lancaster Fire and Rescue Chief Richard Sebastian, crews were called to the scene around 10 a.m.

Chief Sebastian says the building had heavy smoke and fire when they arrived, destroying the inside of the building.

He says the fire was under control in about an hour. There was no one inside the building at the time.

He says the pantry had all of its Thanksgiving boxes for those in need inside, but all of that is gone now.

Chief Sebastian says the fire is still under investigation.

According to the Garrard County food pantry Facebook page the fire is “A total loss”.

The food pantry says it will continue marching forward and will still have senior food box distribution tomorrow in the parking lot of Lancaster Baptist Church.

Donations are also being accepted to help the pantry recover, they can be made at the first southern bank in Lancaster or by mail to the pantry’s P.O. Box 408 Lancaster Ky 40444.

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