The latest step in Brad Paisley’s effort to help end hunger in Nashville involved getting a little bit dirty.
On Wednesday, the country star took control of a backhoe to break ground on a free grocery store for area families in need. The Associated Press reports that Paisley, 46, wore a cowboy hat-shaped construction helmet for the groundbreaking ceremony for The Store. Naturally.
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The singer and his wife, actress Kimberly Williams-Paisley, reportedly came up with the idea for The Store after volunteering with their kids at a similar organization, the Unity Shoppe, in Santa Barbara, California.
“Hunger and food insecurity [are] a real issue in Nashville,” Williams-Paisley told reporters. “One in seven people deal with food insecurity. That means they don’t know where their next meal is coming from. And it’s even worse for kids, one in five children.”
The Store, which will be run in partnership with Paisley’s alma mater Belmont University, will operate much like an ordinary grocery store, except it will be staffed by volunteers and Belmont students. “Customers” will shop for food, but no money will change hands.
“The Store will operate as a year-round free grocery store allowing people to shop for their basic needs,” the official website explains. “Clients are given the opportunity to come to The Store for a one-year period. There is no charge to those referred or to the people and agencies that send them. They may shop for food to supplement their income during times of crisis and as they work toward self-sufficiency.”
Paisely told reporters at the groundbreaking that their hope is to “take away the sting of the embarrassment for a parent who maybe feels that way. Because they’ can’t feed their kid.”
Williams-Paisley said their goal is to help before it’s too late for those who are struggling.
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“We really want to get people before this is a major crisis,” Williams-Paisley explained. “We want to help people in this gap where they are trying to get back on their feet.”
By utilizing students as their core workforce, Paisely hopes The Store can also be a teaching tool. “You don’t learn necessarily in a textbook, things like this. You can read statistics on hunger. You can read everything on the subject and not have it hit you in the heart like watching someone walk through this service. Which is hopefully what’s going to happen as a student is volunteering here,” Paisley said.
Construction on the Nashville store is projected to be completed by the end of the year.
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