Brad Paisley and his wife, actress Kimberly Williams-Paisley, have joined forces with Brad's alma mater, Belmont University in Nashville, to open The Store, a free grocery store which is a modern version of a food pantry.
Brad, who is The Store's president of the board of trustees, told The Tennessean, “This is a grocery store with dignity for people who have fallen on hard times. 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, and their initial goal is to serve 3,000 people per year.
The Paisleys got the idea for The Store from a similar concept called the Unity Shoppe in Santa Barbara, CA. The couple, along with their two sons, volunteered there around the holidays.
Brad said, “It was inspiring because these people have dignity. It’s not a scene from ‘Oliver Twist.’ These people are able to sit there and feel very, very normal in the eyes of their kids. I remember . . . thinking, ‘Why isn’t this everywhere?’ Essentially, we got this idea that it could be a very effective thing in Nashville.”