WEST MILFORD Using music to help feed the hungry isn't a new idea. There was "Live Aid" and "We Are The World" in the 1980s. Bruce Springsteen is known for accepting food donations for the New Jersey Food Pantry at his local concerts. And now some West Milford artists are doing their part to help AmpleHarvest.org, a local non-profit that helps bring fresh, healthy food to food pantries throughout the country.
Conceived and produced by Deborah Zuke Smith of zuketunes, LLC, of West Milford, she invited nine of her young artists to write original songs for a CD called "Garden of Music." The money raised by selling the songs were to benefit AmpleHarvest.org, a non-profit group that addresses hunger and malnourishment in America. Smith contacted Gary Oppenheimer, the founder of AmpleHarvest.org and a West Milford resident, to meet with her artists. He gave each an anonymous email from a family that is having trouble feeding its family to help them better grasp both the magnitude and the impact of food insecurity.
After each of these artists read their email aloud, it was clear that something inside of them clicked," said Oppenheimer. "It was no longer those people over there who were hungry but rather, neighbors in need seeking assistance. Their amazing music reflects the impact of the letters."
Emma Ferony is a junior at West Milford High School and a voice student of Smith. She was one of the students asked by Smith to record an original piece of music for the "Garden of Music" CD.
"There was no assignment but a lot of the kids wrote motivational songs," said Emma, whose song, "No One Knows" talks about being non-judgmental. "It's about hope and being optimistic."
Emma was very proud to be asked by Smith to participate in the project. She has nothing but praise for the voice teacher she's been studying with for two years now.
"I'm so proud to be part of this and to be a student of Deb," said Emma. "She helps you find your voice."
I wanted to find a way to help my artists share their gifts. It has always been my focus to guide them to use their talents for the greater good," said Smith in a release. "When I first approached Gary with the idea, his enthusiasm and support was instantaneous. This has been a wonderful experience for all involved.
Oppenheimer agreed. The album they created, Garden of Music not only contains beautiful music; it also will help AmpleHarvest.org change the food supply in communities all across America," he said. "It will help us not buy food for food pantries time and time again so much as eliminate hunger and malnourishment outright by using the fresh food we already have. It makes sense economically and it will improve the health of America."
The goal is to have this be the starting point of working with songwriters who will create music specifically targeted towards problems and the charities working to solve them," Smith continued. "We selected AmpleHarvest.org because hunger is all around us, and so is the extra food in millions of home gardens. AmpleHarvest.org brilliantly connects the dots between the problem and the solution, both already existing in every community in America.
The AmpleHarvest.org Campaign, created by CNN Hero Gary Oppenheimer, was designed to educate, encourage and enable growers nationwide to share their excess garden bounty with local food pantries which typically only have processed food. It does this through an online clearinghouse of neighborhood food pantries eagerly accepting donations of fresh produce. Nearly 5,000 food pantries spread across all 50 states have registered and more are signing up daily. A national map of the registered food pantries can be viewed at www.AmpleHarvest.org/map.
For more information about Smith and zuketunes, LLC, visit www.zuketunes.com.