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Feed America First program soon may be homeless

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TMP Photo by Kelly Hite. Director Tom Henry is looking for a new place to set up shop.
A local organization that feeds hungry Americans may soon be homeless.

Feed America First, a local nonprofit that distributes food to 160 agencies in 58 counties in rural Tennessee, northern Alabama and Mississippi, has leased the old Rutherford County Creamery since 2002. But now its lease is up, and Director Tom Henry is looking for a new place to set up shop.

“Our approach is that hunger is a community issue and that hunger will be eliminated when we don’t let our neighbors go hungry,” Henry said. “If we provide them, local agencies, with food then they can have an impact on more people.

“We give everything away,” Henry said, adding the organization focuses on rural hunger issues. “Each one of the small agencies we deal represents between 15-50 families.”

When Henry and company moved into the old creamery, it was owned by a faith-based organization that didn’t charge rent. It only asked Henry donate some of the food he gathers to the hungry in Rutherford County.

But a local development company recently bought the building and chose not to renew Feed America’s lease, which expires Sept. 15.

“Our needs are for 5,000-15,000 square feet of warehouse space with access to loading docks, where we can install our racking and use our forklifts, with room to park our trailers and two trucks to continue distributing food,” Henry said.

Henry has distributed more than 14 million tons of food from the Murfreesboro warehouse in the past six years and expects to give away 3 million tons of food this year alone. He does all this with the help of three other volunteers and other donations.

One volunteer, Omri Rawlins, a retired agribusiness professor from MTSU, said he likes the idea of helping people in need.

“Most of us are busy doing our own thing, and Feed America is willing to help,” Rawlings said.

Feed American First helps by distributing food to agencies, like Greenhouse Ministries, Meals-on-Wheels and similar agencies that help people in need.

“He supplies us with whatever we need,” explained Jane Sharp, co-director and founder of Greenhouse Ministries, a faith-based organization that provides multiple services to people in need.

“We have certainly enjoyed our friendship with him. He has such a compassionate heart,” Sharp said, adding Henry and Feed America First is Murfreesboro’s best-kept secret.

Greenhouse Ministries has a daily bread rack for people in need in the community, and when the bread rack gets low, she calls Henry.

“If he gets a big shipment in he calls us and vice versa,” Sharp said, adding she once got a shipment of sour cream and called Henry to share the wealth.

It’s this network of relationships with other agencies that makes Henry want to keep Feed America First in Rutherford County.

For more information, contact Tom Henry at tomhenry@feedamericafirst.com or visit the Web site www.feedamericafirst.com.

Michelle Willard can be contacted at 615-869-0816 or mwillard@murfreesboropost.com.

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Members Opinions:
July 20, 2008 at 12:00am
One important piece of information is missing from this story, what is the name of the local development company who bought the property. We need to know that in order to prevent them from their corporate greed hurting others.
July 20, 2008 at 12:00am
I wonder what will happen with the Hope Center run by Mike Creasey and his Lazarus Project located there?
July 21, 2008 at 12:00am
Hey what happen to all the other comments?
July 21, 2008 at 12:00am
WOW, isn't a shame with our community in need that Feed America First is "Being Foreclosed On." That says a lot!
I am sure this developer has millions in the bank and could afford to allow Feed America First to have a reasonable lease so they could stay in business, or offer them another location. This company claims to be "Christian!" I think not! You don't have to give away the bank, but ... what would Christ expect them to do? Karma is always working!
AND YES, WHERE DID ALL THE OTHER COMMENTS GO??? Did the developer call and have the power to have them all "Disappear"?
July 22, 2008 at 12:00am
Wow JC, I guess you don't intend on following your own advice but that is typical of people such as yourself so what else is new.
Yes most non profit charities are happy with whatever they can get so yes they were happy to just have a building but it still does not negate the FACT that the developer's corporate greed has now left this organization without a warehouse to use for their organization. If the developer was truly running their corporation under Christian principles they would continue to allow this organization to use their building the same as they have since this developer bought the property, but they chose another route, the less Christian route but that should not surprise anyone who has actually lived and witnessed this type of behavior for very long.
July 22, 2008 at 12:00am
I'm sure the developer has been very pleasant to Mr. Henry this past year. They had no choice, since Mr. Henry and FAF has a right to the building until Sept.15. AND Mr. Henry would not speak ill of anyone, even though FAF "may soon be homeless" because the developer "chose not to renew the lease." We'll see what happens after the 15th. of Sept.
July 23, 2008 at 12:00am
I would like to know what the developer has to say about this. Maybe the Post should contact the developer and write a follow up article so we can all understand why they have decided not to renew FAF's lease. I am sure there is a reasonable explanation. I don't know who the developer is but I am sure the decision has nothing to do with FAF and/or the greed of the ole mighty dollar. After all, that wouldn't be very Christian like, now would it.
July 23, 2008 at 12:00am
Where did JC king of king’s comment go? They said I should open my checkbook up and give, and that would solve the problem. The problem is that FAF will be "Homeless" on Sept 15th! I realize it is not "Foreclosure", but the result is the same, they are having the roof over their food and transportation taken away by GREED! I agree with one of the first comments "that disappeared", when they said, beware of doing business with "SO CALLED CHRISTIAN BUSINESSES." They do not always act in a Christian way! And Mr. Henry is the true Christian in this situation, turning the other cheek, I just hope the waters part and he finds a new home for FAF in this county that has forgotten the “Little People” that are here to help the needy in our county. And King of Kings … Christ extended his hand to all in need, and he did not have either hand out for money! Have you ever heard of being philanthropic?
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