Towson High, Handel choirs hosts benefit concert to fight food insecurity

After months of rehearsals, students in Towson High School’s choir will see their efforts come to fruition this weekend at a benefit concert for fellow Baltimore County Public School students who are fighting food insecurity.

The choir has teamed up with the Handel Choir of Baltimore to perform a collection of classical works Sunday at the Church of the Holy Comforter, in Lutherville.

Proceeds from the benefit concert will support Food for Thought Inc., which organizes backpacks filled with non-perishable food that county public school students who do not have steady access to meals at home can take with them in a backpack over the weekend.

The nonprofit serves as many as 130 students in the county, according to Monica Butta, the president of its board of directors.

On Sunday, the choirs will perform works by Handel, Brahms and other composers as well as newer pieces based on “uplifting bluegrass hymns,” said Derrick Jackson, director of the Towson High School Chamber Choir, adding that the event also will bolster lessons on food insecurity that students have learned in the classroom.

The members of Towson High’s chamber choir have spent the past few months learning about food insecurity in preparation for the concert, Jackson said. The group watched videos about world hunger, studied statistics about food insecurity and participated in a lesson that forced them to shop virtually on a weekly budget of $50.

The students were surprised to learn that people in their own community were going hungry and even more surprised by how difficult it was to stick to a budget when shopping, Jackson said.

“I thought that if the students were going to be really receptive to doing a performance where they have to practice and do a concert on a Sunday, then they really needed to know why we were doing it,” Jackson said. “It had to be more meaningful for them.”

Food for Thought Inc. began as a loose affiliation of partner churches and organizations four years ago. Its partners, which include Towson High School’s Parent Teacher Association, coordinate donations of food and money at a cost of about $10 per backpack of food each week.

Though low-income students might have access to free or reduced breakfast and lunch at school, dinner and the weekends can be a problem that gets in the way of learning, Butta said.

“Having a full stomach and access to nutritious food is essential for learning,” she added. “We want to make sure hunger is not an obstacle to the great education Baltimore County students receive.”

Tickets to the concert can be purchased at the door or at www.foodforthoughtbenefit.brownpapertickets.com. The price is $25 for adults and $15 for students, with all proceeds benefiting Food for Thought.

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