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Volunteers help Nashville Food Project deliver meals

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

It takes hundreds of volunteers every day to operate the Nashville Food Project.

It's a nonprofit that finds a way to create, cook and deliver 3,000 meals a week to people in need.

Volunteering means giving up your free time for free to help someone else. It's often described as providing "food for your soul."

"You have to get your hands dirty," said Christina Bentrup. "Playing in the dirt is good for you. It keeps you young, and it keeps you healthy."

The Nashville Food Project in Green Hills grows veggies that get chopped up in their kitchen, then put on a truck as part of a full-meal delivery.

There are 100 people served every day, 3,000 meals a month.

This is possible thanks to volunteers, like Cris Dalmau, an American Eagle airline pilot with little free time.

"I thought about what I could do on my days off," said Dalmau. "I thought about giving back to the community and thought I'd do some volunteer work."

There are three people on staff at Nashville Food Project. All the rest come to volunteer.

"It's really incredible. The people that find us and come back time after time," said Bentrup, the Nashville Food Project coordinator. "The volunteers help in the gardens. They come and help in the kitchen and cook meals with the produce coming from the gardens, then they go on trucks and help deliver the meals. There's no way could we do it without them."

Without the volunteers, Nashville Food Project couldn't serve or teach simple gardening techniques to homeless and working poor families in Nashville.

"The minute I went on a truck and saw the people I've reached and the gratitude of how happy they are to see us," said one volunteer. "This is the only healthy meal they get each week. To be able to give back to someone, that's more rewarding than anything else."

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