Byte of Prevention Blog

Young Lawyers In a Frenzy to Halt NC Hunger

More than likely you won’t be going to bed hungry tonight. Many North Carolinians aren’t so lucky.

But a group of young lawyers – led by the state Attorney General – is trying to change that.

The 2014 Legal Feeding Frenzy - a statewide food drive spearheaded by the NCBA’s Young Lawyers Division and the N.C. Association of Feeding America Food Banks – kicked off in early March. For the second year, AG Roy Cooper is serving as honorary chair.

“This is one of the great causes,” said Cooper in a Bar Association press release. “We talk about how important public education is in North Carolina, but how can a kid learn if he or she is hungry? North Carolina, unfortunately, has the distinction of being the state with the highest percentage of children under five years old who are hungry. We have a lot to be proud of, but that’s not one of the things we’re proud of.”

One in Four Children Hungry in NC

The Feeding Frenzy turns a worthy cause into a fun competition. Over a three-week period, North Carolina law firms will compete in five categories – sole practitioner (1-10 employees), small firm 11-50 employees), medium firm (51-100 employees), large firm (more than 100 employees) and law school - to see who can collect the most food and funds for food banks..

Last year, 46 teams competed – including teams of in-house attorneys and even some judges. Already this year more than 50 teams have signed up. The champions will be honored at a ceremony in April.

Last year’s effort netted more than 180,000 pounds of food for needy North Carolinians. This year’s goal is even higher.

 “Two hundred and fifty thousand pounds of food for our hungry North Carolina neighbors,” said attorney Cabell Clay, who along with Bryan Scott heads the Legal Feeding Frenzy Committee. “[A]nd we’re well on our way.”

Participants say the experience is soul-nourishing and eye-opening.

“The folks who are least among us truly are experiencing a difficult time,” said Alan Briggs, executive director of N.C. Association of Feeding America Food Banks. “It’s sad in a way when we have to come together and talk about our state in ways we don’t like. There are way too many North Carolinians who are not able to have adequate nutrition on a daily basis. That ought to shock and concern every one of us.”

Forsyth County Kicks Things Off

The 2014 Frenzy was launched in Forsyth County. Among those who helped jump-start the drive: the Forsyth County Bar Association (Judge Denise Hartsfield, president), the Office of the Forsyth County Clerk of Superior Court and the Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest NC 

Hunger Facts in NC

Between 2010-13 North Carolina ranked among the top five states  with the highest percentage of citizens experiencing food shortages.

Here are some other N.C. hunger facts:

  • Approximately 170,000 people in N.C. receive emergency food assistance in any given week. This is equivalent to the entire current undergraduate enrollment of all 16 colleges and universities that make up the University of North Carolina system.
  • 8 in 10 households receiving food assistance are unsure where their next meal is coming from.
  • 28 percent of food pantries have had to turn people away for lack of food.
  • 42 percent of families served by food banks have had to choose between buying food and heating their homes.
  • The hunger problem is especially severe in Asheville, Greensboro, High Point and Winston-Salem.
  • 35 percent of families served by food banks have been forced to choose between paying for food or for their rent/mortgage.

Jay Reeves a/k/a The Risk Man is an attorney licensed in North Carolina and South Carolina. Formerly he was Legal Editor at Lawyers Weekly and Risk Manager at Lawyers Mutual. Contact jay@lawyersmutualnc.com, phone 919-619-2441.

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