Using Pro Bono to Grow Healthier Communities

Unhealthy eating habits and limited access to fresh food are an issue for many Americans.  While numerous projects to improve availability of affordable, nutritious food are taking place around the country, The PBEye just learned of a new initiative in our capital’s inner city.

D.C.’s Common Good City Farm (CGCF) is an urban farm committed to providing fresh food and nutrition education to nearby low-income residents.  This May, Britain’s Prince Charles, a long-time supporter of sustainable food projects, paid a visit in recognition of CGCF’s good work and accomplishments!

Ballard Spahr LLP* recently helped CGCF with land use and permitting issues.  Their pro bono assistance allowed CGCF to make improvements to their property, including construction of a pavilion on the farm.

Urban farms play an important role in the fight against food deserts, which are widespread areas without access to affordable, nutritious food.  Not only are these farms sources of fresh produce, they also beautify the community.  Nonprofit organizations often create these farms by reclaiming and transforming abandoned lots.  Law firms can follow Ballard Spahr’s lead in offering valuable pro bono assistance in these endeavors.

Bringing grocery stores to low-income areas is also crucial to the elimination of food deserts.  Securing funding for such projects is another opportunity for pro bono work in this field.  For example, Lowenstein Sandler PC* helped The Reinvestment Fund (TRF) secure a $2 million loan to bring a fresh food initiative to New Jersey.  TRF will use the proceeds to encourage supermarkets to open in low-income communities.

An upcoming issue of The Wire will highlight additional innovative pro bono efforts by firms to improve the accessibility of affordable, nutritious food.  Look for it later this summer.

Is your law firm engaged in a pro bono project that promotes access to healthy food in low-income communities?  We’d love to hear from you.

*denotes a Signatory to the Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge®

Hat tip to PBI intern Megan Brown for her help with this post.