Reasons to be thankful

Thanksgiving has come and gone, and whether you generously volunteered your time or made a donation, we are truly thankful for your invaluable contributions.

During the last two weeks at the Catholic Pastoral Center, we gave out 150 Thanksgiving boxes, which included whole turkeys, to ensure that families could enjoy a Thanksgiving meal. We were very blessed to be able to contribute to these special moments of family togetherness.

Meanwhile, staff at our other Middle Tennessee locations distributed turkeys, food boxes, and more. We won’t soon forget the faces of those who thought they would not have a Thanksgiving meal, but then received one of our turkeys. One individual literally cried when we she received a whole turkey: “We thought we wouldn’t be able to afford a turkey or a Thanksgiving meal, or anything,” she told us. “Thank you so much!”

Also, our big-hearted volunteers helped at Loaves and Fishes on Wednesday, Nov. 22. They worked virtually non-stop from 7:30 a.m.–noon., to help put together a Thanksgiving meal with all the trimmings for our neighbors in need.

These pictures tell the story of the need across the counties and our different locations.

We reflected on what we are most thankful for, and if we got to say the gratitude goes to our team— a team that includes YOU! Without your support we could not have helped this many neighbors in need.

  • With your gift of, $30 we can provide 10 meals through Loaves and Fishes or 1 food box to a family of 6
  • We can provide utility assistance to 1 household with a gift of $100.
  • Your donation of $250 will set up electricity for a family moving into their own home.

Giving Tuesday

As today is Giving Tuesday, please take a moment to reflect on those facing challenging times. Now we invite you to join us in supporting our mission of serving our neighbors through our annual Basic Needs campaign. We are aiming to raise $25,000 during the holidays to address utility bills and rent, housing, food, clothing, diapers, provide life-skills counselors and financial literacy classes for our neighbors.

Your contribution will have a significant impact in providing essential support to those who need it the most.

We are involved in the 100 Day Challenge initiative!

This initiative, which began August 28 and is scheduled to wrap up on December 9.  is led by United Way of Greater Nashville, The Family Collective, and Safe Haven Family Shelter, in partnership with more than 25 community organizations. Nashville’s rapid growth has made finding housing harder than ever, and more than 400 families registered with Metro area partners are currently awaiting housing support. This challenge is an opportunity for partner organizations to braid together their expertise and move the needle for our neighbors.

Nashville Diaper Connection

We will never get tired of saying THANK YOU to our friends at the Nashville Diaper Connection, who this morning made a huge donation of 3,800 diapers for our neighbors in need. On the photo are Neyra Arguello, our basic needs case manager, and Doug Adair, president of the Nashville Diaper Connection. It is splendid to see how good deeds generates smiles and hope in thousands! #supportnonprofits #SupportYourNeighbors


Andrea Dowlen-Pride passionate about feeding the hungry

Meet Andrea Dowlen-Pride, an AmeriCorps member and Catholic Charities volunteer, who shares her passion for helping people in need and her knowledge of nutrition to help feed the hungry in Nashville through the Loaves and Fishes program.

“I have committed myself to a life of service,” said Dowlen-Pride. “I’ve always been inspired by ‘The Starfish Story’ where the message is that even saving one starfish along miles and miles of needy starfish made a difference to that one starfish. I believe that when I feed one family in need, I have made a significant difference, and that is important to me.”

Andrea has certainly made a difference in more than one family’s life. She works with the team at Catholic Charities “Loaves and Fishes” program to address food insecurity in Nashville. The number of people who cannot make ends meet each month continues to increase since the pandemic, making food insecurity an ever-growing problem in Nashville. Andrea uses her training and education in nutrition to help educate her clients in understanding healthy choices, access to nutritious foods, and why it’s important to avoid things like added sugar and saturated fats.

“I’ve seen that it can be particularly confusing for people coming from other cultures to understand American packaged food and how to make the healthiest choice,” said Dowlen-Pride. “Helping the elderly to make smart food choices is also a rewarding part of my work.”

From educating clients to personally packing food boxes to be distributed to the hungry, or even making sure she has granola bars in the car in case she sees someone in need, Andrea Dowlen-Pride is one of our star volunteers. She will be heading to American University in the fall to pursue a Master’s Degree in Public Service and Public Administration. We are very grateful for her outstanding work, and will hold her to her promise to return.

“I love doing service work in my hometown of Nashville. I was born and raised here, and I am dedicated to helping this community,” said Dowlen-Pride.

Thank you for all you do for our community, Andrea! We are grateful for your service.

About Catholic Charities “Loaves and Fishes” program:

For the past 25 years, Loaves and Fishes, a community-wide effort enlisting the help of 23 volunteer groups representing many denominations, schools and associations remains committed to serving the growing needs of the hungry in Nashville. Our flagship program in East Nashville provides meals Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday. A simple breakfast and a hot midday meal is served to the hungry and homeless without restriction of religion, race, or proof of need. Each week approximately 600 meals are served in a caring environment to our guests. Guests of the program are also provided referral to appropriate services for housing, additional food, and clothing, within the community. That program operates in the Parish Center of Holy Name Catholic Church, located behind the church at 508 Main Street in Nashville.

For more information call (615) 256-7256 or email at Our hunger relief efforts also include local chef-prepared to-go meals and food box distribution and at several sites throughout the city.

Meals program feeds hungry, employs workers (Tennessee Register)

Read original story in The Tennessee Register

Catholic Charities of Tennessee has partnered with the nonprofit World Central Kitchen to address two pressing problems: providing meals to people in need because of the March tornadoes and the COVID-19 pandemic, and helping restaurants keep their workers employed.

“This is an incredible program that is a win-win for many, and we’re thrilled to partner with World Central Kitchen,” said Judy K. Orr, executive director of Catholic Charities.

World Central Kitchen was founded by chef José Andrés in the wake of the 2010 earthquake that devastated Haiti. Since then, World Central Kitchen has organized teams of chefs to set up shop and serve restaurant quality meals in places around the world when natural disasters strike.

But the COVID-19 pandemic posed new problems, explained Whitney Pastorek, the Nashville project lead for World Central Kitchen: “Lots of people hungry, lots of restaurants shut down.”

World Central Kitchen established the Chefs for America program to address those problems by paying restaurants to provide fresh-cooked, quality meals for the hungry, allowing the restaurant workers to continue working. The restaurants receive $10 per meal, which enables the restaurants to keep their staff on the job and off unemployment, Pastorek said.

Nationally, more than 2,300 restaurants are participating and have prepared more than 20 million meals. In Nashville, three restaurants and a food truck are participating in the program, providing about 2,500 meals a week.

Pastorek turned to Catholic Charities for help in distributing the meals to people in need. “Their wealth of knowledge of how to help the community is really, really spectacular,” Pastorek said. Orr was one of the first people she called to help with the program.

The staff at Catholic Charities not only agreed to distribute the meals, but also shared contacts with other local organizations that address food insecurity. Catholic Charities was also able to share information about other programs that could benefit from the Chefs for America program, Pastorek said.

“They’re working with restaurants to help keep people employed, and we get to be the recipients of the good food they make,” said Wendy Overlock, program coordinator for Catholic Charities’ Loaves and Fishes program, which provides meals three days a week to the needy at Holy Name Church in East Nashville.

“At the moment, programs affiliated directly with Catholic Charities are receiving 400 meals a week,” including individually packaged meals and family-style meals with enough food for four people, Pastorek said.

The meals always include a protein, a vegetable and a starch, Pastorek said, but the specifics depend “on the day and the chef’s mood.”

“We want to make sure it’s delicious, scratch-cooked … the kind of meal you would expect if you were eating at a restaurant,” she said.

The meals that are distributed at Loaves and Fishes once a week are from the Chinese restaurant Tansou, which is one of several Nashville restaurants run by celebrity chef Maneet Chauhan. “She jumped at the chance to be involved,” Pastorek said.

Some of those meals are also distributed through the food program for senior citizens that Catholic Charities participates in, and distributed to tornado victims, Overlock said. “It’s kind of going all over.”

The restaurant Henley, located in the Kimpton Aertson Hotel on Broadway, is providing the family style meals that are taken to St. Frances Cabrini Church in Lebanon to be distributed to families affected by the March 3 tornado.

The need for the meals has been growing because of the combined blows of the tornadoes and the pandemic, Overlock said.

The number of people getting lunch through the Loaves and Fishes program has increased in recent months from 50 a day to 80, Overlock said. “We’re getting a dozen or more every day of people we’ve never seen before.”

At the beginning of the pandemic, most of the people served were homeless, Overlock said. Now, there are more people who have lost their jobs or were already on the margins.

The meals provide not only physical relief but a positive emotional boost as well, Pastorek said.

Many people have been under stress for so long they don’t want to cook, Pastorek said. “Having a prepared meal show up once a week can make a huge emotional difference for people.”

World Central Kitchen had allocated $50 million to the national Chefs for America program, Pastorek said, but “they’ve blown right past that.”

The Nashville program, which started in June, is scheduled to end on Aug. 14. But World Central Kitchen is accepting donations that could keep the program running, Pastorek said.

People can make a donation by visiting the World Central Kitchen website, When people make a donation they should write in the comments section of the online form that the money is intended for the Nashville program, Pastorek said.