Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and as we prepare to join with family and friends for a festive meal, this holiday season of gratitude and generosity of spirit has us thinking about the less fortunate among us and pro bono efforts designed to fight hunger and increase the availability of nutritious and affordable food.
As we’ve previously reported, there are a variety of ways in which pro bono attorneys from all practice backgrounds can work to increase access to healthy food. Opportunities for involvement include providing counsel to eligible nonprofit organizations, helping low-income individuals navigate the application process for public benefits, producing research and model legislation to improve access to and the administration of public benefits, conducting impact litigation, and more.
While numerous inspiring initiatives to improve the availability of affordable and healthy food are taking place around the country, The PBEye recently learned of an innovative pro bono project that seeks to bolster the New England local food system through the provision of pro bono legal assistance. Conservation Law Foundation’s Legal Services Food Hub, which is part of its Farm and Food Initiative, provides free legal services to income-eligible farmers, food entrepreneurs, and nonprofit organizations and community groups that support a healthy and sustainable food system. The eligibility criteria, modeled after the USDA’s “Limited Resource Farmer” definition, are designed to capture low-income farmers and food entrepreneurs and small- to medium-scale farms and businesses. The Legal Services Food Hub works with a network of volunteers, including several Member Firms and Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge® Signatories, to provide a range of transactional assistance to eligible clients. For example, attorneys from Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr*† offered pro bono guidance on structuring an equity finance agreement to two young entrepreneurs, who are starting a food truck business that will serve healthy meals made with local ingredients in low-income Boston neighborhoods.
As we continue to pay greater attention to food access, those pursuing pro bono work in this field have the chance to transform communities and lives. To learn more about impactful pro bono projects aimed at fighting hunger and promoting the availability of healthy food, check out Pro Bono Food for Thought: Improving Access to Nutrition. You may download the publication, which is free for Member Firms and available to others for purchase, by visiting our Resource Clearinghouse.
Are you engaged in a pro bono project that expands access to nutritious food in low-income communities, either at home or abroad? Leave us a comment and let us know.
* denotes a Signatory to the Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge®
† denotes a Member of the Law Firm Pro Bono Project