What do Harvest Hope and SC foreclosures have in common?

If you guessed that South Carolina has seen a marked increase in foreclosures and requests for food have markedly increased, you win!

According to the Columbia Regional Business Report (CRBR):

South Carolina’s foreclosure rate from July to August 2009 was up 1.94%, reported national real estate tracking company That number is more than 78% higher than it was one year ago.

According to Harvest Hope:

In the first quarter of 2009, Harvest Hope experienced a 142%  increase in the number of families needing assistance.

Earlier today I attended a fundraiser luncheon for Harvest Hope. It made me focus on how the problems faced by so many living in poverty are faces of our neighbors, our friends, our loved ones.

The “featured” speaker at the luncheon was someone who had been working – two jobs. Two good, solid jobs. Then she got ill. Which started the medical bills and absence from work. Which caused her to lose her jobs. Both jobs. The bills kept coming. When it came to paying bills, she used her money for medical bills and medication. Then she lost her home. She stopped eating so much. That made her sicker. Then she found Harvest Hope.

She was able to eat.

The doctors are still trying to figure out what is “wrong” with her. In the meantime, she can eat. Without Harvest Hope and the necessary nutrition it provides, she would be even more sick.

While these societal problems may not be legal, I guarantee that the Legal Aid Telephone Intake Service (LATIS) has been referring people to Harvest Hope.

And once people have nutrition and can think about something other than an empty belly, then they may call LATIS for assistance with a problem with their Landlord. Or maybe for help with their Medicaid benefits. Or help with a way to escape their abusive spouse.


Food+Good Samaritans=Federal Food Donation Act of 2008

       Some of you may be wondering how Food Donation fits into access to justice.     

Well, here goes:

People who are going hungry are often living in poverty. →

Access to Justice wants to people who are living in poverty have more access to legal services. →

Legal services encompasses not only direct representation, but also imparting knowledge of the laws and the rights to the people affected by these laws.→

The Federal Food Donation Act of 2008 is one such law.

And it just so happens that last night one of my friends asked me about food donations and liability. Well, wouldn’t you know, it just so happens that while I was in law school I worked on a project to review good samaritan food donation acts around the country. I remembered that the laws were fairly consistent in encouraging food donation and generally did not subject those who donated apparently wholesome food to civil or criminal liability unless there were instances of gross negligence or intentional misconduct.

So I checked into whether there had been any changes.

The Federal Food Donation Act of 2008 was signed into law by the President on June 20, 2008. According to the Act itself:The purpose of this Act is to encourage executive agencies and contractors of executive agencies, to the maximum extent practicable and safe, to donate excess, apparently wholesome food to feed food-insecure people in the United States.

So next time you’re attending an event and you notice leftover food, please encourage the host or caterer to donate the food.

And, if they’re still worried, encourage them to speak to an attorney about liability.