Last Thursday, we celebrated the construction of our new headquarters and officially launched our capital campaign - A Longer Table - with a community-wide preview party of the site! Slated to officially open in December, the building will include a large, open concept space for TNFP’s food prep, meal support, food recovery and garden programs.
As many of you know this is an enormous turning of the page for our organization. The work that would become The Nashville Food Project began more than ten years ago, and each year of our work has seen growth and change. Our initial operation of preparing sack lunch meals in a humble kitchen and sharing them to men and women living on the streets has deepened and evolved into community food work which now includes:
Growing organic produce in production gardens to support a meals partnership program that’s turning out 4,500 high quality made from scratch meals each week
A food recovery program that rescues hundreds of thousands of pounds of edible food each year
Maintaining 4 community gardens across the city, where Nashvillians with barriers to food access can grow their own vegetables and get to know their neighbors
Running two kickass kitchens in which our staff and volunteers get creative in prepping and cooking delicious, nutritious food
A successful social enterprise, launched one block away in partnership with SLCH, that allows us to earn revenue by supplying our partners the nutritious meals they need to run their programs
Running a market garden that supports farmers who came to the U.S. as refugees. They are growing vegetables to sell, earning supplemental income for their families and creating connections to the wider Nashville community.
With all this program growth, our space and facilities needs have shifted and changed, and in this next chapter for The Nashville Food Project, bolstered by the new building and location this new headquarters will offer us, we will:
Increase the number of meals we can prepare and share, the amount of food we can rescue, and the number of volunteers we can engage
Sustain our work to nourish our community with opportunities to grow and cook and share food
Increase connections to healthy food and to one another
We purchased this property in January 2017 and got to work committing our dreams and visions to paper. The cast of supporting characters involved in this incredible project include: our architect team from Gresham Smith & Partners, our kitchen designer Frank Flowers of Inman Foodservices Group, our general contractor Walker Mathews Jr. of RC Mathews, our bankers providing construction lending for the project, Teona Chapman and David Jones of First Tennessee Bank, and our building committee co-chairs our board members Ryan Rohe and David Cripe.
Our board of directors set an ambitious capital campaign goal of $5M to support this expansion. That amount covers the cost of purchasing this land, designing and building the new structure, furnishing it, and equipping the large commercial kitchen. So a year ago we launched a leadership phase of our first ever capital campaign to support all of this. We are deeply grateful to report we’ve had tremendous momentum in this quiet phase, with already $3.65M dollars committed. Our incredible capital campaign co-chairs Melinda Balser and Lady Bird have been completely instrumental in getting us this far, this quickly.
We are deeply grateful for the generosity of the lead corporate and foundation donors who have pledged significant funds to this project. Their early gifts of leadership, friendship, trust, advice, and money have paved the way to more gifts of support in this campaign. They are:
The Cal Turner Family Foundation
The Ansley Fund of The Frist Foundation
Bank of America Charitable Trust
The Kharis Foundation
Ingram Industries Charities
W. L. Lyons Brown Foundation
TN Dept. of Environmental Conservation
At the preview party, we also announced the first named portion of our new headquarters - The Lady Bird Board Room - honoring longtime board member and local philanthropist Lady Bird and her husband Billy.
Lady has held esteemed positions in politics, government and both the for profit and nonprofit sectors. She has years of experience as a deeply-respected Nashville leader, having served on more than 30 nonprofit boards, and has a base of personal power that is unspeakable. She also has a tenacious concern and deep compassion for the most vulnerable members of our community.
Lady Bird has done everything for TNFP from asking for million dollar gifts to scrubbing meat juices off the refrigerator floor. For the last 8 years, she and her incredible husband Billy have been faithfully driving a food truck two times a month to Operation Stand Down to share lunch with the veterans participating in their programs. She has built up our board of directors with generous, strategic leaders. We’re thrilled to name our very first board room in honor of Lady’s years of extraordinary service to The Nashville Food Project, with the hopes that her wisdom and guidance will stay in the room for years to come.
Learn more about our new headquarters and the campaign at alongertablenashville.org