Some 15 years ago, a church member and friend approached me about an idea he was having—more of a calling, really. Tom was a successful restaurant executive and one of the more thoughtful people I knew—and really smart, too.
Tom’s idea was to create a new non-profit that would help to alleviate hunger locally. What Tom knew was that an enormous amount of food in this country is thrown away—literally. Not food that has gone bad, but food that might be a day late in delivery. Food that was available for hungry families if the logistics were in place to retrieve those trucks and trainloads of food. Along with his partner, they created Feed America First.
In the first year of operation, having walked away from a great job, Tom’s partner died unexpectedly. What to do now? It would have been very easy for him to have folded up his brand new venture. It would have been easy for him to have somehow taken his partner’s death as some kind of sign from God that he should quit. But to Tom’s credit, he knew that this “calling” from God was true and so he plowed ahead into an unknown future.
The beginnings were humble. He and his young organization (which I think consisted of himself and maybe three volunteers) had to find cheap warehouse space to handle stockpiles of food that would only be there for a day or two. They needed a truck to haul food. And of course they needed money. I imagine there were many days when it appeared the new ministry would need to fold. Having that kind of daily and weekly pressure had to be daunting.
Tom’s vision was to help supply the rural area food banks that operated outside of Nashville. What with 2nd Harvest Food Bank already well-established in Nashville, there was no need to be in direct competition with them, but he found the need in those rural areas. Of course, this also made the logistics of getting food off of a train into a warehouse and then transferred one more time to a local agency meant that time was of the essence. But, as I said, Tom is smart and he knew how to make it happen.
Allow me to skip the whole history and bring you up to speed. In 2016 alone, Feed America First donated—without cost to any recipients—13.8 million pounds of food! That is staggering and amazing. Food that would have been thrown away was saved and given to those in need. The word “Stewardship” pops into my head. Tom and his organization are such grand stewards of God’s goodness.
This what happens when a committed disciple, Tom Henry, has a dream and follows it in the name of God. I just wanted you to know his story.