On a sunny Friday afternoon, a van from St. John Missionary Baptist Church, from Clarksville, pulled into the Dellway Villa/Fallbrook Apartments in East Nashville. The van is loaded with dozens of bagged meals – donated through a partnership with Panera Bread – to be distributed to children and families in need of food in the wake of the COVID-19 school and business closures.
“This is a blessed day,” said Bishop Alvin E. Miller, Sr., pastor of the church, as he provided the meals to residents, alongside his wife Dominique Haywood Miller. “We are doing God’s work right here.”
“This means a lot,” said apartment resident Adriana, holding her son infant son Keshawn, as she is handed a bag filled with four sandwiches, chips, and fresh fruit. “It means a lot for someone to come out here and see if we need some help.”
Five days a week, local church vans along with volunteers have been distributing the meals to neighborhoods throughout North and East Nashville. Other churches distributing meals include New Hope Missionary Baptist Church, John Wesley United Methodist Church, Clark Memorial United Methodist Church, Fourteenth Avenue Missionary Baptist Church, and True Way Church.
The bagged meal distribution is just one of the many programs resulting from Mayor John Cooper’s Food Security Working Group committee – a group of community, corporate, and local restaurant leaders working to ensure food security during these uncertain times – headed by Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee president and CEO Nancy Keil.
Brenda Haywood, Deputy Mayor of Nashville for Community Engagement and Education, is a member of the committee and heading up the Panera partnership.
“This is the community in action,” said Haywood. “Delivering the food is very humbling and rewarding. Each pastor and all participants are grateful to have been given this opportunity by Second Harvest and Panera Bread.”