Josh Stein, North Carolina’s attorney general, spoke at the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina to kick off an annual statewide initiative aimed at reducing food insecurity on Thursday.
“There are too many North Carolinians experiencing hunger right now,” Stein said in an interview. “The food bank helps them get the resources they need.”
The “Legal Feeding Frenzy,” which is held annually by the North Carolina Bar Association, is a food and fund drive competition. Law firms and organizations in North Carolina compete for the “Attorney General’s Cup” by collecting food donations and raising funds to benefit the state’s food banks. Gov. Roy Cooper was the honorary chairman of the event for four years. On Thursday, a group of lawyers gathered at the food bank in Raleigh to prepare food for distribution.
“Like many of them, I became a lawyer because I wanted to help people, to serve people, to protect people, and what these folks are doing is putting that energy and that drive behind something that’s very important, and that is addressing North Carolina’s food insecurity,” Stein said during his speech at the event.
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From 2015 to 2016, North Carolina’s food banks distributed nearly 182 million pounds of food products, which is more than 150 million meals, according to the North Carolina Association of Feeding America Food Banks.
“We’re really excited about this month-long event,” said Jessica Whichard, senior manager for communications at the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina. “It’s a nice reminder that hunger is an issue every day. To have the focus put on that is very important.”
The competition will take place from March 6-31 and the cup will be presented on April 24. Stein will present additional awards for various categories, including sole practitioner, law school and firms of differing sizes.
More than 1.7 million residents in North Carolina are considered food insecure, according to a 2014 study by Feeding America, a nonprofit organization and nationwide network of food banks. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, food insecurity is defined as “the limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods or limited or uncertain ability to acquire acceptable foods in socially acceptable ways.”
In three counties in North Carolina, more than a quarter of the population is food insecure. The state also has one of the highest rates of food insecurity among children under 18 years of age. In North Carolina, nearly one in four children are considered food insecure, according to the North Carolina Association of Feeding America Food Banks.
Madison Iszler: 919-836-4952; @madisoniszler