Volunteer Spotlight

Volunteers are involved in every aspect of our daily operations, contributing over 1200 combined hours a month to the work of our organization. They come from all across Nashville – schools, universities, local businesses and faith communities.  We are so thankful to have such a generous community helping us steward our important work.

Click here to learn more about the ways you can partner with The Nashville Food Project.

Julie Blackwell

photo-6Julie Blackwell grew up in a creative family. Her grandmother once served her a memorable lunch of chicken salad, shaped into a person, with asparagus limbs and olive eyes, so it’s not surprising that Julie grew up loving to cook and garden. While raising their boys, Julie and her husband lived on ten acres in the Bellevue area where they tended a large garden. She continued the food styling legacy for her boys’ birthdays, making breakfast special with banana cars and skateboard parks made from breakfast bars.  These days, Julie is spending time in our kitchen helping create delicious meals from our fresh produce. What keeps her coming back to TNFP? The ability to connect with people when serving meals from our truck, and the joy of preparing a made-from-scratch, hot meal for others. Thanks for all you do Julie! We appreciate you.

Mary Dionne

SCL_3878“I love Tuesdays because I wake up and get ready to go to The Nashville Food Project,” says volunteer Mary Dionne.

Mary became involved with us last fall after responding to a Facebook post from our farmer friend Tally May. Upon learning more about our mission, Mary joined us for a volunteer session and now can be found in our prep room, chopping produce every Tuesday morning and delivering meals most Thursdays.

What keeps her coming back? She says she really appreciates that our meal recipients don’t have to prove anything in order to receive a meal from our trucks. She laughs when stating that her volunteer time has helped improve her knife skills because, she quickly admits, cooking was never a big focus for her. Perhaps that is because she and her husband were too busy flying hot air balloons! For more than 20 years they were involved in racing balloons and taking charter flights, but are now retired from the sport. We’re glad that Mary is happy wielding a knife in our kitchen these days and entertaining us with stories about life high in the sky.

Marilyn Lane

IMG_5736When Marilyn Lane’s granddaughter, Parker, spends time with her, the activity that Parker always wants to do with her grandmother is volunteer.  Marilyn introduced her granddaughter to volunteering at TNFP, and when Parker is out of school, these two are found in our kitchen mixing, cleaning, and prepping food for our meals.

Marilyn found TNFP while volunteering with FiftyForward’s RSVP program over a year ago. Now, she is involved in everything at TNFP from meal prep to meal delivery. Marilyn says what she loves most about our work is that we “serve with open hearts and no judgment.” She is also impressed by the way we reclaim and use food. This speaks directly to Marilyn’s approach to life which is to make as small a footprint as possible. For 25 years, Marilyn and her family were homesteaders in Michigan on a 3 acre farm.  Cows, turkeys, and goats were among the livestock they raised. She grew a large garden and made her own soap. She embraces sustainability and strives to “live small.” Marilyn moved to Nashville 9 years ago to be close to her children and granddaughter. Marilyn, you inspire us all!

Learn more about our wonderful volunteers here.