Disaster relief organization serves food to western Ky. tornado victims

Published: Feb. 8, 2022 at 5:34 PM CST
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WESTERN KENTUCKY (KFVS) - Folks in western Kentucky are still recovering from the devastating tornadoes in December.

Now, a disaster relief organization has set up at a Paducah school to serve chef-prepared meals.

“I’ve got to the point in life where I want to make a difference in something. And this is a huge difference maker for me,” said Chef John Thompson.

He said he’s thankful to be able to wake up each day and serve the people of his community.

“I know what they’ve been through, I’ve seen what they’ve been through,” he continued. “We’re feeding the folks that are in the shelters for the tornado. We are also feeding local agencies.”

They’re accomplishing this through Mercy Chefs, a disaster relief and humanitarian aid organization out of Virginia that’s set up shop in an old school in Paducah.

“From the location, Mercy Chef’s able to reach out more effectively into all the counties that were affected by the storm. And we’re able to host teams here that are coming into to do volunteer work in the communities,” Thompson said.

The Beacon of Hope Kitchen is what Mercy Chef founder Gary LeBanc called a sticks and bricks operation, which is more efficient than a mobile one.

“What we’re seeing is how much of an impact it can have in a community when we have a permanent place to work out of instead of just a mobile kitchen,” he said. “We’re able to do so much more, and we’re able to sustain those efforts for a much longer period.”

Pastor Joel Cauley of Relevant Church delivers meals to those in need and said, “The food speaks for itself. We need to be out in the community and being what we call the hands and feet of Jesus. And so many times in the Bible Jesus offered food. And what a great way to just start a conversation over a meal.”

The Beacon of Hope kitchen is currently serving the public and welcomes anyone who wants to volunteer.

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