Nutritious food is a basic human right, yet 1 in 7 Nashvillians lack access to the food they want and need. The Nashville Food Project is a community food project that connects people to nutritious food and to each other through urban agriculture projects and homemade meals. We recently got in touch with the organization’s procurement manager, David Frease, to learn more about their mission to nourish their community.

For those who don’t know, what is The Nashville Food Project?

The Nashville Food Project strives to provide increased access to healthy foods in homeless and underserved communities in the middle Tennessee area. With the organic vegetables harvested from our own urban gardens, along with donations from our farmer friends and food recovered from various sources around town, we cook and provide over 5,000 meals and snacks a week.

What inspired the program?

Our founder, Tallu Quinn, ran the local chapter of Austin-based Mobile Loaves and Fishes from 2007-2010 but her vision of food security included so much more, leading her to officially start The Nashville Food Project in 2011. In addition to the meals on wheels format that Mobile Loaves and Fishes was using, Tallu incorporated community gardens and a food recovery aspect that kept perfectly good food from being thrown away just because it had a packaging flaw or was nearing expiration. It’s a multi-pronged approach to food security.

How do you think about nourishment?

I think about nourishment as so much more than just the nutrients you get from food. Nourishment needs to be physical, mental, spiritual … taking in the things that bring you fulfillment and avoiding anything else. For some people that can be time in nature, getting together with friends, making a meal with food from their own garden, spending quality time with family, reading a good book, traveling somewhere new and so on.

“I think about nourishment as so much more than just the nutrients you get from food. Nourishment needs to be physical, mental, spiritual ... taking in the things that bring you fulfillment and avoiding anything else.”

How do you focus on your well-being throughout the day while supporting so many others?

Honestly, it’s hard sometimes because the days are incredibly busy and they’re also over before you know it. Being the procurement manager, I’m on my own most of the time driving around town to pick up donations and share excess items with other partners. This allows me to listen to a lot of music, audio books and podcasts, all of which I find mentally stimulating. My job is extremely physical so I make sure to take it easy outside of work and I also have a regular yoga practice.

Is there anything else you’d like our community to know?

Before the pandemic, we heavily relied on volunteers to help make our non-profit work. Due to COVID-19, we haven’t had volunteers in our kitchens or gardens since March of last year, so it has been quite the adjustment. We are looking forward to the days when we can welcome large groups back through our doors again, not only for the extra help, but much more so for the chance to build community. We can’t wait to work together with our neighbors, shoulder to shoulder, to deliver thoughtfully prepared meals to people who need them. The best way to find volunteer slots when they’re available is through Hands on Nashville here.