This country superstar is giving back by opening a free grocery store in Nashville

This country superstar is giving back by opening a free grocery store in Nashville
Royalty-free stock photo ID: 516661930. Farmer holding fresh tomatoes at sunset. Food, vegetables, agriculture.

Inspired after volunteering at a store in California, country musician Brad Paisley and his wife, actress Kimberly Williams-Paisley, donned their hard hats last week to break ground for a free grocery store in Nashville, Tenn. It’s simply called ”The Store,” and there’s a reason they chose that name.

One in seven people are food deprived, says Paisley. By building this store, parents can come in with their kids and shop without the stigma or embarrassment of being labeled “poor.” They can shop with dignity and respect. They can tell their kids, “Come on, we’re going to The Store.”

The Store is located right near a bus stop by Paisley’s alma mater, Belmont University, in order to make it easier for folks to access, CBS affiliate WTVF-TV reports.

“As you can imagine, where you place this [store] is important and right at this age of where gentrification is happening,” Paisley said at the groundbreaking ceremony. “There are people being squeezed out a little bit in this area. It’s just the perfect place.”

College students will volunteer and donate their time as store employees, offering themselves the kind of learning and experience you can’t get from a book, says Paisley.

“You can read statistics on hunger or you can read everything about this subject and never necessarily have it hit you in the heart like watching someone walk through this service—which is hopefully what’s going to happen as a student is volunteering here.”

The Paisleys and The Store’s partners hope to serve 3,000 people per year. Eventually, they hope to expand The Store’s services into educational classes that include job training, cooking and nutrition classes.

Besides offering free donated food, the nonprofit store will also offer “deeply discounted” food from the Second Harvest Food Bank and other sources, like Thistle Farms in Nashville, who will stock The Store with body care products.

The Paisley family was inspired to open the free supermarket after volunteering at a similar store in Santa Barbara, California, according to The Store's website. "We took our boys to Unity Shoppe to teach them about serving others and giving back to people in need," Paisley said. "And we came away surprised by what the organization had taught us. Most people don't want handouts. They want dignity and respect. Most people want to become self-sufficient."

Here’s video that tells a bit more about Paisley and The Store, courtesy of CBS News on YouTube.

Hopefully, places like Unity Shoppe and The Store will start a trend nationwide. Cheers to Brad and Kimberly and to all those helping to make this concept come into fruition. It’s a community coming together for the good of others and the greater good. And there’s no better reason for such a beautiful endeavor.


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