When they are not selling out stadiums or releasing new albums, many musicians lend their time – and their voices – by promoting food and agriculture initiatives, using their celebrity platform to raise money and awareness to combat hunger and poverty. These 12 artists have participated in the movement to change the food system, either by teaming up with organizations or influencing their fans to take action.
1. 50 Cent
Known for his entrepreneurship as much as his rap music, 50 Cent has proposed an ambitious goal to donate 1 billion meals to the World Food Program (WFP) over five years. Each meal is a US$0.10 donation, which means that 50 Cent aims to raise US$100 million for WFP. In order to reach this goal, each sale of 50 Cent’s Street King energy drink will count as one meal for donation to the WFP.
2. Ben Taylor
Taylor works and raises money for the Island Grown Initiative, a not-for-profit grassroots organization that supports family farmers on Martha’s Vineyard. The work that Taylor and Island Grown Initiative do inspires others to design local food programs that work for their own communities.
Bono co-founded the organization ONE to raise awareness about development, nutrition, and agriculture. With more than 3.3 million global members, ONE actively engages members to support food aid, pushes for bills that support and reform food policies, and raises money to support those in extreme poverty. The campaign publishes annual reports that are available for the public to view and learn about the progress being made to resolve these issues.
Coldplay has raised awareness of Oxfam’s Make Trade Fair campaign, allowing campaigners to speak to fans at concerts, and advocating for the organization in media interviews. On their most recent tour, Coldplay teamed up with Oxfam’s Grow campaign to raise awareness of the inequalities in the way food is produced, distributed, and consumed worldwide.
5. Dave Matthews
Dave Matthews first became involved with Farm Aid in the mid-1990s, when he learned about the health and environmental benefits of wholesome, fresh food produced by small-scale farmers. In 2001, Matthews went on to join the Farm Aid Board of Directors, while continuing to perform in the organization’s annual concerts and advocate for food system sustainability, with a focus on supporting small family farmers. In addition to his work with Farm Aid, the singer-songwriter owns 1,260 acres of land in Virginia, part of which has been converted into an organic educational farm run by the nonprofit organization Local Food Hub. Local Food Hub’s programs include training for refugee farmers, student internships, and providing food for donation to charitable organizations and schools. Local Food Hub also sells produce grown on the farm under its own brand.
6. Indigo Girls
During their tour in 2009, the Indigo Girls paired up with Rock for a Remedy to collect food for both American people and pets in need. The Indigo Girls were able to collect more than one hundred tons of food donations. Their website is also a resource for fans to learn about other organizations helping combat hunger in the U.S.
7. Jack Johnson
Jack Johnson is a supporter of the Kokua Hawaii Foundation, which provides resources in schools and the communities of Hawaii to support the local food system. Johnson eats organically and makes an effort to grow his own food, and hopes to educate children and adults alike on the increasing amount of food that is genetically modified in Hawaii. Johnson also participated in a public service announcement for the Just Label It Campaign, in support of labeling GMO foods.
8. Jen Chapin
Jen Chapin is known for her funky folk music and often incorporates her dedication to food justice into her songs, such as her recent hit, “Feed Your Baby“. Most recently, Chapin donated all proceeds from her album’s release show to Long Island Cares, and encouraged people to bring non-perishable and healthy food donations to the performance. Chapin will perform for the upcoming Homemade Jams benefit concert, from which all proceeds will go toward WhyHunger, a grassroots support organization working to end hunger. Her father, singer-songwriter Harry Chapin, co-founded WhyHunger in 1975, and Chapin has served as the Board of Directors and currently serves as the secretary for the organization.
9. Snoop Lion
Snoop Lion, formerly known as Snoop Dogg, has been vocal about his partnership with the Mind Gardens Project. After a trip to Jamaica, Snoop was struck by the amount of poverty and hunger he witnessed. In order to give back to the country, Snoop works with the non-profit initiative in order to build community gardens to teach people how to grow their own food. His support has launched a campaign on Causes.com, to encourage people all over the world to learn more about growing food locally.
10. Willie Nelson
Along with Neil Young and John Mellencamp, Willie Nelson organized the first Farm Aid concert to raise awareness and funds for family farmers. Since the first concert, Farm Aid has raised more than US$43 million to highlight the plight of family farmers. Nelson has been vocal about his passion for this cause, suggesting, in a Huffington Post blog, that consumers should “Occupy the Food System” so that it is in the hands of family farmers, not corporations.
11. Yoko Ono
Inspired by her late husband John Lennon’s vision for world peace, musician, artist, and activist Yoko Ono has paired up with WhyHunger to promote the Imagine There’s No Hunger campaign. WhyHunger works to support grassroots solutions to mobilize people to end hunger and poverty. The campaign has raised more than US$4.5 million to support 26 grassroots organizations that implement community-based and sustainable solutions.
12. Youssou N’Dour
Youssou N’Dour, a Senegalese singer and songwriter, has been outspoken in unifying Africa, urging the international community to act in response to the challenges the continent faces. In 2000, N’Dour was nominated as the Goodwill Ambassador of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization. In this role, N’Dour was able to fundraise and travel to hunger-affected communities, and develop support to held alleviate hunger. N’Dour’s commitment to Senegal is apparent today, as he serves the cabinet as the Minister of Tourism and Culture.