Saturday, February 27, 2010

Nourishing our Community through Music with The Food Project

On March 13, 2010, Longwood Symphony Orchestra and The Food Project will present Nourishing our Community through Music: a concert focusing on Community Nutrition and Hunger Relief to benefit The Food Project

Through a competitive application process, LSO chooses four LSO Community Partners each year. Beyond the music, each concert becomes an opportunity for a nonprofit health-related organization to tell its story to the wider community. The weeks leading up to the concert raise community awareness, through outreach and education programs.

On a sunny summer day in August 2009, Michael Barnett and Lisa Wong met with Polly Reeve of The Food Project at its urban farm site in the heart of Dorchester, The 2-acre farm is one of the many sites of The Food Project, LSO's March 2010 Community Partner. Michael, a Yale Music School-trained oboist and now 4th year Harvard medical student, is Chair of LSO's Community Engagement Committee. Polly Reeve is TFP's Director of Development.

The Food Project: Building community, feeding our community

Since 1991
, The Food Project ( has built a national model of engaging young people in personal and social change through sustainable agriculture. Each year, the program engages hundreds of young people and thousands of volunteers who farm 37 acres in eastern Massachusetts in the towns and cities of Beverly, Boston, Ipswich, Lincoln and Lynn.

Not just an urban farm
What is remarkable about The Food Project is that its interest is not only in growing food, but in growing community spirit and growing young people.
Through the creative hard work of farming, they learn cooperation and leadership.

We consider our hallmark to be our focus on identifying and transforming a new generation of leaders by placing teens in unusually responsible roles, with deeply meaningful work.

Let's Move
The Food Project has been working in the community for nearly twenty years. Over time this conversation on community hunger relief has become increasingly pressing and relevant.

Just a few weeks ago, First Lady Michelle Obama unveiled her "Let's Move" initiative, a multi-pronged program that addresses childhood obesity through increased exercise, school nutrition programs, as well as increased accessibility to fresh foods.

More than 23 million Americans, including 6.5 million children, live in low-income urban and rural neighborhoods that are more than a mile from a supermarket. Lack of access to proper nutrition is one reason why many children are not eating the recommended levels of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

Food insecurity and hunger among our children is even more widespread. A recent USDA report showed that in 2008, an estimated 49.1 million people, including 16.7 million children, lived in households that experienced hunger multiple times throughout the year.

For more information visit the Let's Move website

Reaching out to the community
There is a seeming incongruence between the lush greenery of The Food Project's Dorchester farm and the stark rowhouses in the surrounding neighborhood. But the Food Project provides an oasis that is symbolic of the vision of the organization itself.

Through all of our youth programs, people of all ages bridge communities through farming and food and discover their interdependence with each other as well as with those who purchase and receive their produce.

Fifteen year old Eva of The Food Project writes: My goal is to someday reach out to people from all sorts of communities and backgrounds in a way that helps them become as caring as I am about the topic of society and have them feel inspired to break down barriers between communities. Have them reach out to others. Whether it be with loved ones or to the greater community. The more that people become united, the better the world will be.

Once the food is harvested, The Food Project shares its crops with the community through Farmer's Markets and with local hunger relief organizations.

Throughout the month of March, Longwood Symphony and The Food Project will raise awareness and catalyze conversation about community hunger.

1. On March 6, 2010, LSO on Call will perform in three of the hunger relief organizations who are recipients of The Food Project's fresh produce Women's Lunch Place, Pine Street Inn, and Haley House

2. On Friday afternoon March 12, 2010, LSO's violin soloist Tai Murray will visit The Food Project to meet the young people and give a brief performance

3. On the evening of March 13, 2010, Mayor Thomas Menino and Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz will join supporters, staff, and young people at NEC's Jordan Hall to celebrate the work of The Food Project.

4. From March 13-31, Longwood Symphony will continue its month-long focus on hunger relief by joining the League of American Orchestras national Food Drive, Orchestras Feeding America.

Longwood Symphony Orchestra is proud to present its March 2010 LSO Community Partner, The Food Project, and invites you to its concert on March 13, 2010 to benefit this remarkable organization.

Violinist Tai Murray will visit The Food Project

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Words of thanks from Partners In Health

From Paul Farmer

Dear Lisa

Although we are all scattered about these days, we are all aware of your ongoing efforts to support earthquake relief, and other PIH programs, through the LSO. We heard about the beautiful program and wish only that we had been there to hear it and
remember the beauty of music. But even though we weren't there, the beauty of human solidarity comes through loud and clear.

Gratefully, Paul

From Ophelia Dahl

Dear Lisa,

I can only echo Paul's words. We feel your warm and supportive embrace. Suzanne was moved by all she saw and heard that evening. Thank you to all of the groups that came together to provide support and relief for Haitians.

In Haiti, the work that continues hand to hand, day by day, in the face of such suffering is inspiring. Sometimes I feel that music is the best medium by which to convey both the magnitude of the catastrophe and the love and tenderness shown by countless others as well as the convergence of disparate groups to aid so many. Truly, there are no words that could do as eloquent a job as you all did that evening.

I hope our paths cross again soon and please convey our gratitude (on top of Paul's and Suzanne's) to the musicians and all involved in such a beautiful evening.

With warm wishes, Ophelia