The Store, the nonprofit free-referral based grocery store co-founded by Brad Paisley and Kimberly Williams-Paisley, is celebrating its one-year anniversary and marking a year of serving many more families in a more widespread way than ever imagined when it was originally conceived.
The nonprofit had no idea a year ago how its operation model was going to change. It opened for in-store clients on March 12, 2020, following the March 3 tornado that devastated parts of Nashville. The Store was only open for four days when the COVID-19 pandemic became widespread and in-store shopping was not going to be feasible. A new plan was implemented to reach people in need as they sheltered at home. A home delivery system for the elderly was immediately put in place, and curbside pick-up was implemented for households in need. Weekly deliveries are currently capped at 450 households and curbside pickup is at 200 per week, which is six times the initial projection.
Fifty-four million people are estimated to be suffering from food insecurity nationally at this time, with one in four being children and one in six elderly. The Store serves the community not only food staples, but fresh produce, toiletries, household cleaners, pet food, diapers and other non-food items needed provided by sponsors, partners and donors.
“When we started dreaming about creating The Store years ago, we never imagined we would open our doors just days from catastrophic events—the tornados and then the pandemic—that would greatly impact the need for assistance in our community for months and months to come…. We couldn’t have opened The Store without fantastic community involvement from many people and organizations, including Belmont University, our board, staff, referral partners, volunteers, donors and the Edgehill community,” says The Paisleys, The Store, co-founders. “None of us could have done this alone. We are definitely Better Together.”
The Store’s referring agencies increased from the original six partners in March 2020 to currently fifteen. Clients are referred by Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital, Edgehill Community Partners/MDHA, Catholic Charities of Tennessee, Monroe Harding (Reengagement Hub), Conexión Américas, CMA, Metro Public Health Department (COVID Reserve Group), Oasis (Transitions Program), TriStar Centennial Women’s and Children’s Hospital, Hillsboro High School/MNPS Hillsboro Cluster, Safe Haven Family Shelter, Amerigroup, End Slavery TN, Community Achieves Program and YWCA.
“We are so grateful for our community partners who have worked with us as we rapidly adjusted our operating model to meet this year’s challenges, our volunteers who stepped up to deliver groceries to our elderly neighbors, and our donors who recognized that their support meant food on tables this past year,” says Courtney Vrablik, The Store, Executive Director. “I think it’s been a great example of how Nashville is at its best when we work together.”
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