How do you create a community? It’s a big question with a complex answer. At The Nashville Food Project we believe it happens one meal and one relationship at a time. St. Luke’s Community House and TNFP are teaming up to paint a future filled with connection and meals for even more Nashvillians by sharing a space at St. Luke's called the Mural Room.
In May, the doors to the Mural Room were opened to the The Nashville Food Project to use as a meal prep space. Since 2004, the mural room has been used as a conference, meeting and program space which could be divided into two rooms. Its name comes from the inspiring and reflective mural showcased on its back wall featuring the old Tennessee State Penitentiary, This N’ That Thrift Store, and the community members in between. The mural was a collaboration project between St. Luke’s and the Frist Museum. An artist worked with children to complete a three part mural depicting the history of St. Luke’s and its community partners. Now, 14 years later, The Nashville Food Project is a collaborator and symbiotic partner sharing half of the namesake room.
What difference does a half of a room make? Kelli Johnson, TNFP St. Luke’s Kitchen Manager says “It’s really been a game changer in the amount we can do. We’ve doubled our number of volunteers. And we’ve hired another staff member to oversee volunteers. We’ll also be making 650 meals a day.” To give you perspective, two years ago TNFP was preparing 150 meals each day in the St. Luke’s kitchen. The bump in capacity has allowed us to take on four new sites this summer - 2 YMCA Summer Camps, an open Picnic at McGruder Family Resource Center (next to our garden), and the Margaret Maddox YMCA. Having access to the mural room has allowed us to touch each of these sites and provide healthy meals to children who may not have consistent meals now that school is out.
St. Luke’s and TNFP have a supportive relationship. TNFP is able to reside and access the St. Luke’s Kitchen for any project supporting our mission. In exchange we make sure that St. Luke’s program participants are getting nourishing food in their preschool and senior mobile meal programs. The impact is easy to see.
We are so grateful and excited to be a part of the Nations community and for our second home at St. Luke’s Community House. Every year we both support each other to ensure the health and vitality of the neighborhoods that we serve. What’s the next step? Another mural in the mural room with our ever continuing story of sharing nourishing food and building community relationships.