Believe it or not, today is week seven – the final week -of our Serve Nashville blog series! To end on a high note, today’s blog is focusing on ways in which we can serve communities known as food deserts, which are areas in which communities (often homeless or low-income) have little or no access to large grocery stores offering fresh and affordable foods. The two nonprofits that we are spotlighting today are both organizations doing phenomenal work in supporting these communities’ needs in Nashville, The Nashville Food Project and the Nashville Mobile Market.
The Nashville Food Project
The Nashville Food Project began its work in Nashville in June 2007 as Mobile Loaves & Fishes,making runs into homeless camps three days a week delivering sack lunch meals. Two years later in 2009, a second mobile food truck was added and a year after that, when Nashville flooded in May 2010, Mobile Loaves & Fishes’ volunteers delivered over 19,000 meals to displaced residents, water company employees and others working on relief and recovery across the city. Since their beginning in Nashville five years ago, their volunteers have prepared and distributed over 157,000 meals to homeless and housing insecure residents of the Nashville area.
After a a good five years with the parent organization Mobile Loaves & Fishes, Inc., the decision was made to establish a local nonprofit in Nashville. In October 2011, Mobile Loaves & Fishes Nashville became The Nashville Food Project, an independent entity that uses local funds and local volunteer labor to address the local problems of poverty and food insecurity in our community. One hundred percent of the money received stays in Nashville.
The Nashville Food Project tackles hunger in Nashville through a number of ways:
1. Their Kitchens – they use donated foods to prepare wholesome and nutritious meals to low-income Nashvillians
2. Their Gardens – they grow food (and people) by offering educational opportunities for youth
3. Their Trucks – which are used to distribute meals and fresh produce and build relationships within the community
4. Their Relationships – being accountable with donors, volunteers and the communities they serve.
Do you feel led to volunteer and serve with The Nashville Food Project? Volunteers and donations are always needed. Of course, donations (both monetary and food) are always needed, but hands-on volunteer work is also integral to the organization. Whether you are an avid gardener and would like to help tend their gardens, or are interested in helping clean and prepare foods to be made into home-cooked meals, the Nashville Food Project will have an area in which you can serve alongside them. For information on up-coming volunteer projects and how to sign-up, visit here. To visit the Nashville Food Project’s website, visit here.
Nashville Mobile Market
The Nashville Mobile Market is a social enterprise program with a mission to provide a sustainable source of healthy foods in areas with limited access to them, offer a solution to the physical, financial and educational market failed in the food deserts of Nashville, educate students about community development techniques that can provide cooperative solutions between academia and the community, and provide a much-needed serve to areas of the Nashville community that are in desperate need of healthy, fresh food options and meals, through resources provided by Nashville’s Vanderbilt University.
So, what that all means is that the Nashville Mobile Market strives to encourage healthier eating habits and decrease incidences of diet-related chronic conditions such as obesity, diabetes, and hypertension. It does this by increasing access to and decreasing cost of healthy foods in food deserts, while also education the community about healthier options.
Through a mobile grocery store route, Nashville Mobile Market provides food desert communities with fresh produce, lean meats, dairy, and select non-perishable items. Community residents enter onto the trailer and purchase goods with credit card, cash or SNAP benefits. In addition, recipes cards are available to highlight simple, nutritious options and community kitchens are also held.
The Nashville Mobile Market functions because of its many volunteer staff members, who donate 10-15 hours of their time each week to support the mission of the mobile market. Less time-intensive volunteer opportunities are more limited, but occasionally available. Whatever your interest or time availability, visit their website here and express your interest in supporting them through volunteerism, and someone will reach out to you and find a way to get you involved.
And, as with all of the nonprofits featured in our Serve Nashville blog series, donations are an integral part of the heartbeat of this organization. To the Nashville Mobile Market, donations have an extensive impact on what they are able to accomplish.
Your donation of $1,000 can outfit a new mobile market with shelving.
Your donation of $250 can provide a mobile market with air conditioning.
Your donation of $100 can buy an electronic safe.
Your donation of $25 can purchase booklets with healthy recipes or advertising.
Thanks for tuning in to our Serve Nashville blog series! Last week: Supporting Low-Income Youth. | Want to stay connected? Like us on Facebook+ follow us on Twitterand Instagram. And, as always, check out our current homes for sale in the Nashville area.