Country singer Brad Paisley and his wife, actress Kimberly Williams-Paisley, have teamed with Belmont University to open The Store, a modern version of a food pantry that is set up like a free grocery store.
“This is a grocery store with dignity for people who have fallen on hard times,” said Paisley, president of The Store’s board of trustees. “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.”
The Store will partner with Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee and other organizations to provide both fresh and nonperishable groceries to individuals and families in need for one year. Customers will be referred by nonprofit and government agencies. The nonprofit has an initial goal to serve 3,000 people per year.
“It’s that Billy Hill song, ‘There’s Too Much Month at the End of the Money,'” said Pete Fisher, co-chair of The Store’s board of trustees and CEO of the Academy of Country Music. “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.”
The Paisleys were inspired to bring the concept to Nashville after taking their young sons to volunteer at the similarly organized Unity Shoppe in Santa Barbara, California. Paisley explained it was near Thanksgiving and his wife thought their children were acting spoiled. They took the boys to volunteer at the Unity Shoppe to help them understand that other people were much less fortunate. But the day turned out to be a learning experience for the entire family.