Brad Paisley and his wife, actress Kimberly Williams-Paisley, are partnering with Belmont University to open The Store, a free grocery store in Nashville. The Store, which will be located at 2005 12th Ave. South, will be a food pantry modeled as a grocery store.
Paisley, the president of The Store's board of trustees, told The Tennessean that the purpose of the grocery store is to help those who've fallen on difficult times by treating them with kindness and dignity.
"This is a grocery store with dignity for people who have fallen on hard times," Paisley told The Tennessean. "All of us are one unforeseen disaster away from rock bottom. It's nice to think about a place where when that happens to someone, they can use it to get back on their feet."
Partnering with Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee, The Store will offer fresh and non-perishable foods to those in need for one year. Non-profit organizations and government agencies will refer customers to The Store.
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Paisley told The Tennessean that the couple got the idea for The Store after taking their kids to volunteer at Unity Shoppe in Santa Barbara, California around Thanksgiving. The Unity Shoppe offers free groceries, free school clothing and supplies, job training and other essentials.
"It was inspiring because these people have dignity," the country music singer said. "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."
During the holiday season, The Store will have a free toy aisle. The non-profit will accept donations for new, unopened toys.
The organization will also provide on-the-job training.
Brad and Kimberly Williams Paisley have received a $1.5 million 2Gen Family Wellbeing grant for The Store from the Department of Human Services.
"Through the work of our Ministry Center and our partnership with Brad and Kimberly on The Store, Belmont is deeply committed to providing services to underserved children and families in our community, and this 2Gen grant from the Tennessee Department of Human Services will significantly enhance the scope and delivery of the services we offer," Belmont President Dr. Bob Fisher said. "We are grateful for their belief in our work, and I'm excited to witness how this grant expands the impact our students, faculty and staff can have on our neighbors."