Country music star Brad Paisley and his wife, actor Kimberly Williams-Paisley, are giving back to their community by opening a unique type of food pantry in Nashville. The couple partnered with Belmont University to open The Store, which will function as a non-profit pantry while giving its users the dignity of a typical grocery shopping experience.
The Store will be located next to the Belmont University’s Ministry Center. (Paisley is a graduate of Belmont University.) The food is provided by Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee and other charitable organizations.
Their initial goal is for the store to provide free groceries — both fresh and nonperishable foods — for 3,000 people for one year. According to Second Harvest Food Bank, one in eight middle Tennesseans, including one in five children, struggle with hunger every day.
“It’s that Billy Hill song, ‘There’s Too Much Month at the End of the Money,'” Pete Fisher, co-chair of The Store’s board of trustees and CEO of the Academy of Country Music, told Tennessean. “A lot of times when people fall on tough times, they don’t need a lifeline for a lifetime, they just need a bridge and the store affords those families a dignified way to cross that bridge and achieve that self-sufficiency.”
In addition to groceries, the store will also provide toys for children during the holiday season, as well as job training for the store’s employees.
The Paisleys were inspired to launch The Store after volunteering for a similar organization with their kids in California. The musician also emphasized dignity and normalization of seeking help as key aspects of the concept.
“It was inspiring because these people have dignity,” said Paisley. “It’s not a scene from ‘Oliver Twist.’ These people are able to sit there and feel very, very normal in the eyes of their kids. I remember … thinking, ‘Why isn’t this everywhere?’ Essentially, we got this idea that it could be a very effective thing in Nashville.”
Construction for the store is set to begin in 2019, and the total construction target goal is $1.2 million. You can donate to its capital campaign online.