Fire Destroys Fayette County Food Shelf

By Jill Kasparie, Reporter

FAYETTE, Iowa - A fire in Fayette destroyed the local food pantry.

Now the Fayette County Food Shelf is asking for donations as they try to rebuild.

The Fayette County Food Shelf at the intersection of Water and Washington Streets is still standing, but inside it's a charred scene. Owners said they would need to completely start from scratch on the Food Shelf. They're thankful no one was inside and no one was hurt.

"It's just a mess. Everything's burnt, melted, frozen. It's a mess," said Karen Martin.

Shopping baskets melted together, burnt pasta and stacks of damaged cans -- that's the mess Martin is talking about.

"Look at my chair is fried, the desk is totally fried," Martin said.

Karen and her husband, Duane run the food pantry and own the building. They're starting to come to terms with the fire that destroyed it.

"It's a shock, when you see something you've worked so hard on. It's just a shock. It's things you own and you are like 'OK,' but the more I thought about it the more I had to look at it and it's just stuff that's replaceable," Karen Martin said.

The scene was enough to cause panic among the neighbors.

"Huge flames were coming out the side of the building. And I was just looking for vehicles, because I was hoping that the boys who lived there weren't home," Darla Greco, a neighbor, said.

Just above the Food Shelf, four college students who were home for winter break also lost their apartment.

Ice is now forming on their belongings and snow is flying into the broken windows.

So, on this chilly first day of 2014, the building owners are starting to look towards the new year.

With each charred food item, they're mostly worried about supplying food to the growing number of people in need. They are, however, determined to get going again soon.

"If people are hungry we are going to help them. It may take a while but we'll rebuild, we'll get it back to where it should be," Karen Martin said.

The couple estimates the food shelf serves about 2,000 people across Fayette County a year. They're working to get a mobile food shelf up and running, until it's time to rebuild.

In the meantime, they're looking for monetary donations to start replacing all the food that was lost. You can send those to PO Box 711 in Fayette, Iowa 52142.
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