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 email@example.com or visit the Web site www.feedamericafirst.com.
Michelle Willard can be contacted at 615-869-0816 or firstname.lastname@example.org.