Former restaurant owner now helping feed needy - WSMV Channel 4

Former restaurant owner now helping feed needy

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

A Middle Tennessee man gave up a successful restaurant business to start an organization that is working to help both the hungry and the homeless in three states.

Tom Henry of Feed America First is still serving up dinner but in a much different capacity.

Currently their Murfreesboro warehouse is stocked with items that will go toward helping the needy.

"We were blessed with 7 million pounds of food last year," said Tom Henry, the executive director of Feed America First.

An impressive number considering this organization started small in 2000 after a Bible study.

"I had been in restaurant business for 30 years, but felt I hadn't been significant enough," said Henry.

He teamed up with another friend, and together they used their knowledge of the food industry to serve a different need.

"I would confess that it's been scary at times, but I have always had what I needed," said Henry.

It's his mission to make sure others have what they need that has really caught on.

"I felt like I could use my business experience to find an over manufacturer of food to get it to those who need it," said Henry.

The team takes donations from our community, often times from suppliers who have too much stock.

They sort it and hit the road, delivering things like pasta, water and beans to shelters and charities across the South.

The system has been described as one part networking and another part food distribution.

What started small has taken off. Now, they serve 55 counties in Tennessee and a dozen in Alabama and Mississippi.

"If I am doing this on faith, I need to count on food being there, start scheduling every month and just trust that I will have enough food," said Henry. "I just found that the better we are at giving it away, the more opportunity we are going to have to give it away."

Henry said they've already outgrown the past two warehouses and are about to outgrow their third.

One of the keys to success is a low overhead.

Their forklifts and some of their trucks are donated.

For the money that is donated, Henry said they are able to turn every dollar into about 12-15 meals.

Visit the organization's website to learn how you can donate:

http://feedamericafirst.com/home0.aspx

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