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The Power of Music to Help Give Back To Others

By Kristen Bosse

It's no secret that hunger has been a major issue in the United States for some time now. Organizations like Feeding America are desperately trying to help out as much as they can and galvanize as many supporters as possible. Their 2014 study revealed that each year, the Feeding America network of food banks provides service to 46.5 million people in need across the United States, including 12 million children and 7 million seniors. Through a network of 58,000 pantries, meal service programs, and other charitable food programs, the Feeding America network reaches people in need in every community across the U.S. However, folks are still left hungry due to the overwhelming amount of Americans that are either below the poverty line, or homeless. This is where organizations like Music for Food step in to lend an additional hand.

Music For Food

The story of Music for Food began over a dinner between our founder, Kim Kashkashian, and her faculty colleagues from New England Conservatory, Miriam Fried and Paul Biss. They were discussing the concept of artist citizenship: the idea that musicians could use their talents to serve their communities. Music provides spiritual and emotional nourishment and so it presents itself as an ideal parallel to food, which provides physical nourishment.

For each event, audience donations are collected to help the cause, with tickets rarely being sold in order to get in the door. All concerts are by suggested donation, and 100% of those donations always go back to the designated pantry. In order to keep their organization afloat, they rely on grants, like individual contributions, or special events, such as a private concert they are holding in Newton next month with Kim Kashkashian and Pam Frank, as well as Christian Tetzlaff, who will be in town for concerts with the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

Money earned from concert donations goes towards providing food for those in need in the Greater Boston area. To date, Music for Food has created over 150,000 meals through donations made at concerts for those in need, having worked with more than a dozen pantries nationwide, including the Centre Street Pantry and Newton Food Pantry. This was all made possible by the generous residents of Boston. The artists that perform are also an essential part of the operation, donating their time to come out and create music for a good cause. Over seventy-five international artists have participated in this even from all over the country.

Kim Kashkashian and the rest of the Music for Food team are constantly working to set up additional concerts for their cause. Robert Cinnante, General Manager of Music for Food, gave us an inside scoop on what's coming up next.

"We have an ongoing relationship with Carriage House Violins in Newton, and are presenting a concert next week (March 25) to benefit the Centre Street Pantry. Later this spring we'll partner with the City of Newton as part of their month longs arts festival, to present a gala event to benefit hunger relief efforts throughout the city. Also, a significant number of our audience members at concerts in Boston, primarily at NEC and BU, come from Newton."

The Music for Food organization has simply done an amazing job at creating a network capable of reaching out to food pantries nationwide. They have become an established model that empowers musicians all over the country to take action in their own communities. If you'd like to get involved please visit their website at www.musicforfoodboston.org.

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