Evidence has shown that the more parents get involved in their children’s’ lives, the better the children learn, behave and develop. The Nashville Food Project’s newest meal partnership supports programming that invites immigrant families into schools to feel at home in these spaces, in order to connect and engage with their children’s education.
Earlier this year The Nashville Food Project began a new partnership with Alignment Nashville, an initiative to improve the education and health of Nashville’s youth by providing tools that bring the community together for more effective results than we could each accomplish alone. One example is a weekly community night with the goal of Linking, Empowering and Advancing Families - LEAF. Held each Wednesday at Wright Middle School, these LEAF Community Nights allow families to meet over dinner - prepared by The Nashville Food Project - and get connected with community resources. Adults can attend community workshops and ESL classes, while their children receive other enrichment opportunities.
Through this partnership, The Nashville Food Project is sharing a weekly meal that brings immigrant families together to build a community around their children, one that is welcoming and supports youth in their education and development.
This meal has also been an opportunity to connect two of our partners with similar missions. Similar to the LEAF Community Nights, the Oasis Center’s International Teen Outreach Program (ITOP) supports immigrant, refugee and first generation American teens, providing a safe setting for these youth to explore and engage American culture. One aspect of ITOP is building community connection through volunteerism.
For more than six years, ITOP participants have volunteered with The Nashville Food Project monthly, sharing a meal from our food trucks or volunteering in our gardens, and now they share this meal with families who are not so different from their own.
Working with our partners at Alignment Nashville and the Oasis Center has provided an opportunity to bring immigrant children, teens and families together to have a real impact on the lives of each of these partners and our community. The Nashville Food Project believes that when we all come together in community, transformational change can happen, and we look forward to seeing how this new partnership transforms our community for the better!