Moderated by Rick Badie
One in four Georgia children live in “food-insecure” households. Translation: They often have no clue where their next meal will come from. Georgia’s legal community plans to address that grim statistic. Today, the president of the State Bar of Georgia writes about its campaign to help stock food banks across the state. And a food bank executive outlines the region’s growing need for food assistance.
Children can’t learn without food
By Robin Frazer Clark
If I told you about a place where 17.4 percent of the total population and 28.3 percent of its children are struggling with hunger, you would most likely think I was referring to an impoverished country on the other side of the globe.
Those statistics apply to the state of Georgia, where 640,000 children live in food-insecure households, meaning they have been hungry and without access to food. Nearly 40 percent of those children live in households above 185 percent of the poverty level. Therefore, for the most part, they are ineligible for government nutrition programs.
These are children of working families. The term “working poor” is a reality in today’s economy. Children cannot learn without food. Children cannot play without food.
I am proud the legal community in our state has taken the initiative to attack this problem head-on. For the second consecutive year, the State Bar of Georgia and our Young Lawyers Division are proud to team up with Attorney General Sam Olens and the Georgia Food Bank Association for the Georgia Legal Food Frenzy.
From April 22 to May 3, lawyers across the state will raise food and funds for Georgia’s seven regional food banks. The overall winner will receive the Attorney General’s Cup.
Last year, lawyers raised the equivalent of 612,496 pounds of food. A total of 228 law firms and legal organizations from 53 Georgia cities participated in the competition. That represented 16,467 employees engaged in the fight against hunger.
This initiative started in Virginia seven years ago. It grows each year. Our 2013 goal in Georgia is to raise 750,000 pounds. I encourage all state bar members to help reach that goal by signing up at www.galegalfoodfrenzy.org.
Attorneys are called to the law profession to serve others. Justice Robert Benham of the Supreme Court of Georgia recounts that, when he was a little child, each morning at the breakfast table, his father would ask: “What are you going to do today?” His next question: “What are you going to do for someone else today?”
To my fellow Georgia lawyers: What are you going to do for someone else today? By participating in the Legal Food Frenzy, we can help meet a critical need.
When the 43,000-member State Bar of Georgia gets behind successful efforts like this, it goes a long way toward bettering our state and fulfilling our collective commitment to promote the cause of justice, uphold the rule of law and protect the rights of all citizens.
We are grateful to Olens for his amazing leadership and the Georgia food banks for all they do. I ask all Georgia lawyers to get involved in the 2013 Georgia Legal Food Frenzy and for all Georgians to contribute to this worthy cause.
Robin Frazer Clark is president of the State Bar of Georgia.
No kid hungry campaign
By Danah Craft
In 2011, the Georgia Food Bank Association and Share Our Strength, a national nonprofit, joined with Gov. Nathan Deal to launch the “Georgia Feeding for a Promising Future — No Kid Hungry” campaign. Generously supported by a corporate partner, the Arby’s Foundation, this statewide campaign is a public-private partnership to end childhood hunger in Georgia. The campaign is working to achieve that goal by connecting kids to federal food and nutrition programs that include summer meals and after-school meal programs as well as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
This is a natural focus for Georgia’s seven regional food banks, which partner with more than 2,300 agencies and pantries to distribute 90 million pounds of food per year to children, seniors and working families in our state who need food assistance. More than one in four Georgia children — 28.3 percent of our children — live in food-insecure households. That means they don’t always know where they will find their next meal. The lack of access to healthy, nutritious meals has serious implications for their future and for the future of our state’s economy. Hunger impacts their ability to learn in school and has health consequences that include, ironically, increased risk for obesity.
All Georgia children must have the opportunity to grow up healthy and be able to achieve their full educational potential. Their skills and talents will determine the future of our state as we compete in a global economy.
We think public-private partnerships like this campaign are part of the solution. We work with state agencies like Bright From the Start and the Department of Education to increase the number of nonprofits serving healthy, nutritious, summer and after-school meals. Corporate partners like Walmart and ConAgra provided mini-grants to help sites expand the number of children they serve. Last summer, Arby’s sponsored a game-changing texting system that helped parents find the location of nearby summer meal sites.
Less than than 13 percent of children participate in the summer meals program. We can do better. And we will. With support from Arby’s, we will accelerate the strategies we know are working, pilot some innovative ideas, and make strategic capital investments that will permanently expand the capacity of organizations to serve more children.
This campaign is part of the ongoing work of Georgia’s regional food banks, which continue to see increased demand for food due to unemployment and under-employment. During the last three years, the Atlanta Community Food Bank increased its distribution by 85 percent.
Because we know that summer is especially challenging for families with children, the timing of the State Bar of Georgia’s Legal Food Frenzy, April 22 to May 3, could not be better. This friendly competition will provide food and funds to regional food banks so they go into summer strong and well stocked to respond to families needing food assistance.
Find your food bank at: www.georgiafoodbankassociation.org.
Danah Craft is executive director of the Georgia Food Bank Association.