As part of the Nashville community, at Nashville Moms Blog we feel strongly that we are part of something bigger than the small worlds we operate in daily. Nashville is a city rich with incredible not-for-profit organizations and resources that support the many and varied needs of Nashville families, mothers, and children. We regularly spotlight a not-for-profit agency that we feel it is important to share with the NMB readers.
I love food, but not just because I love to eat. Food is perhaps the one thing that all people have in common. We all need it. We all have a favorite type. Food brings people in all cultures together in a way that other things simply can’t. Because of this unabashed passion, what The Nashville Food Project is doing truly spoke to me. In a beautiful and brilliant way, they are using meals not only to help some of our citizens survive, but to bring neighborhoods and unlikely groups of people together.
In 2007, what would be become The Nashville Food Project began reaching out to the those who live on the fringes in this city of ours. TNFP began modestly enough—sending their first catering truck into homeless encampments three days a week, bearing sack lunches. Over the next several years, The Nashville Food Project continued to grow to fill an ever-present need. When the city flooded in 2010, volunteers delivered 19,000 meals to not only the homeless but to displaced residents as well.
The Nashville Food Project’s mission is simple, yet profound: “Bringing people together to grow, cook, and share nourishing food—with the goals of cultivating community and alleviating hunger in our city.” Through the efforts of their invaluable volunteers, they are able to provide food relief grown in community gardens and prepared in volunteer kitchens. They understand that food is not only a cornerstone of communities the world over. Food is also one of the greatest tools at our disposal for cultivating relationships—and reminding us of our commonalities. This is a cause people rally behind—as no one wants to find themselves without food. Their three-tiered system is to grow, cook, and share. This system that proves to be both successful and life-altering:
Grow: Their Wedgewood Urban Garden is located near the Tennessee State Fairgrounds. There they grow a wide variety of seasonal crops for their overall mission. The garden also houses a pavilion that plays host to gardening classes for their volunteers and those in the community. In addition to growing food to provide for the homeless, designated spaces exists for those who live in the neighborhood to grow food for their families. Volunteer to help in their gardens here. No green thumb required!
Cook: In their kitchens at Woodmont Christian Church and St. Luke’s Community House, a wide range of people volunteer: their volunteer pool represents all ethnic and economic backgrounds. The above mentioned community gardens provide a large portion of their ingredients. Additionally, their food partners donate “tens of thousands of pounds of food.” These kitchens serve 1,100 meals a week. If you feel so led, volunteer here to help in the kitchens.
Share: The Nashville Food Project utilizes multiple food trucks to deliver organically grown, locally sourced, and highly nutritious meals. In an effort to reach as many people in need as possible, TNFP works with meal distribution partners. Providing meals in this way enables the previously established nonprofits to focus on the mission at hand.
Those at The Nashville Food Project understand that everyone deserves truly good meals and that sometimes the goal should be bigger than just providing sustenance. Food helps communities that need cohesiveness on a grand level. Food provides neighbors with a way to step in and say, “We will stand with you,” when the person next door is wanting for something. That is where this organization comes in. They don’t just provide a few meals a week. They build a community table that is big enough for our whole city.