The Forrest Firm is proud to be the largest law firm in North Carolina to become a Certified B corporation, or B Corp. By definition, B Corps are dedicated to using business as a force for good in the world. To that end, our firm has amplified acts of volunteerism and community outreach, as well as pro bono work for which the legal profession is known. In this series, “Why We Serve,” our attorneys spotlight organizations where they’ve had opportunities to serve both personally and professionally.
By Jason Pfister
For the last eleven years, I’ve been proud to call Raleigh and the Triangle my home, where I’ve gotten married, raised my children, and built my law practice. Working to improve my community is important to me and I’ve had the honor of serving an organization for the last four years that works tirelessly to improve the lives of some of the most vulnerable people living in and around the Triangle.
The Inter-Faith Food Shuttle is a 501(c)(3) non-profit aimed at eliminating food insecurity. As a Feeding America food bank, the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle utilizes a multifaceted approach in addressing the persistent hunger of nearly 275,000 residents across a seven-county region. The organization recovers and distributes food to those in our communities who lack the means and access to healthy food, with several programs specifically targeted to children and seniors. In addition to food recovery and distribution, the Shuttle also operates its own farm and several learning gardens across Raleigh and Durham. Each year, the organization saves and distributes roughly 6 million pounds of food (much of which would have been thrown away) sourced from retail food donations, the teaching farm, voluntary food drives, and field gleanings at local farms. Inter-Faith Food Shuttle also strives to disrupt the cycles of poverty which create systemic food insecurity by empowering people to meet their own needs through culinary job training, community gardening, as well as nutritional education and budgeting.
Some of my favorite programs are targeted to help children and seniors. You may have just seen one of our biggest fundraisers of the year, the Mediathon promoted by WRAL television and its affiliated radio stations, to fund BackPack Buddies, a wonderful program that sends fresh, healthy meals home for the weekend with schoolchildren across the Triangle who are food insecure and rely on free or reduced breakfast and lunches at school during the week. Every week, the Shuttle sends 2,100 backpacks home with children at more than 70 partnering schools in the Triangle community. We even have a food truck, the Mobile Tastiness Machine, to help these same kids in the summer, delivering meals to locations where access to fresh and healthy food is limited or nonexistent.
The Grocery Bags for Seniors program is highly impactful in the lives of our aging population, people who often live on fixed incomes and face the rising costs of living, including food and healthcare. With the Grocery Bags Program, the Shuttle delivers 1,500 bags of fresh, healthy food every month to seniors in consolidated living areas and apartments in low-income areas.
During the four years I’ve served this high-impact organization, I’ve been honored to work in many capacities with the leadership of Inter-Faith Food Shuttle. I’ve volunteered at the farm, packed backpacks and grocery bags for seniors, raised money, and worked hard to raise awareness of a silent epidemic that impacts a large percentage of our community. During these last four years, I’ve been blessed to serve alongside and learn from an incredible cross-section of the area’s business community on the board of directors.
I’m thankful to the organization for allowing me to pursue both my personal and professional interests to serve the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle and secure its sustainable future. In addition to volunteering as a board member and officer, I’ve also been able to rely upon my legal expertise to guide the organization through the relocation (and planned future expansion) of the Shuttle’s teaching farm, including negotiating the current lease and other legal documents related to the project. I’m grateful to be able to make any contribution I can to an organization that sees problems in our community, devises clever, resourceful programs to address them, and brings resources to bear that support beneficiaries with generosity and dignity.