Thanks to Brad Paisley and his wife, Kimberly Williams-Paisley, Nashville, Tennessee, is officially getting an entirely free-of-cost grocery store—and soon, by the looks of it.
Back in October 2018, the 46-year-old country singer announced his concept for “The Store,” a referral-based supermarket that would act kind of like a food bank, serving free fresh and nonperishable groceries to people in need for one year. It’s a joint venture in partnership with Belmont University (Paisley’s alma mater). The ground-breaking ceremony happened last Wednesday, and the store is expected to open sometime this year.
This isn’t the first free grocery store concept, though. It was actually inspired by a similar store in Santa Barbara, California, called Unity Shoppe. Paisley told The Tennessean that after volunteering at Unity Shoppe with his sons, Huck, 12, and Jasper, 10, he started thinking, “Why isn’t this everywhere? […] We got this idea that it could be a very effective thing in Nashville.”
According to reports, the store will differ from traditional food banks in that it will provide healthy options to people referred by nonprofits and government agencies. And in addition to groceries, the plan is to eventually offer job training; cooking and nutrition classes; a private line of specialty body care products; and to set up a toy aisle for the holiday season. CBS News says students from Belmont University will act as volunteer employees.
One in eight people in the United States struggles with hunger and food insecurity, per Feeding America. In Nashville, the numbers are even higher. Williams-Paisley summed up the ethos of The Store at the ground-breaking ceremony. She said, “We really want to get people before it’s a major crisis, we want to help people in this gap where they’re trying to get back on their feet and they just need a little bit of extra help.” We love.