SOS from Toronto Lawyers Feed the Hungry program
Hull, co-founding partner of Hull & Hull LLP, appealed for assistance during his recent remarks to convocation.
“While the board is doing as much as it can do, we need a collective effort and it’s urgently needed to maintain this program,” he said.
The Toronto Lawyers Feed the Hungry program started in 1998 and is funded mostly by donations to the Law Society Foundation. It’s now facing a major shortfall, says the legal trade magazine.
Hull, chairman of the foundation’s board of trustees, said volunteers provided hot meals once a week in Osgoode Hall’s cafeteria when the program first started. Over the years, that became four hot meals each week with about 3,500 people served every month in Toronto.
“All told, including Lawyers Feed the Hungry programs in Ottawa, London, and Windsor, Ont., the programs have served hot meals to more than three million people since the beginning and average about 100,000 people per year,” reports Law Times.
Hull said about 60,000 of the 100,000 annual average are people using the Toronto program. Despite it being the busiest, the Toronto program is struggling the most financially.
“Historically, the funding of the program has been reliant on phenomenal efforts by some of the founders, we got funding through what I would call one-offs, and the program was vibrant for many years,” said Hull. “Now, the program is funded essentially through ad hoc donations and fundraising efforts. We are, in the Toronto program, facing some tremendous change in both the funding and the fundraising.”
Hull noted that the Law Society of Upper Canada provides staff volunteers to help with the meals, space at Osgoode Hall and administrative support to keep operating costs down.
Currently, the funding shortfall is about $150,000, he said.
“That shortfall is what we’re projecting as a serious problem,” he said. “In 2014, we had to reduce the number of meals because we were projecting a significant problem with funding.”
Hull has appealed to law society members and legal professionals.
“Assist with the program tangibly. Help us secure financial support,” he said. “Your links to the legal community are what is going to save the program and is what is going to maintain it on a long-term basis. We were trying the conventional steps. We were reaching out to the law firms and looking at all the revenue streams we would normally do, but we need some help. Otherwise, without some significant effort on the part of the collective group, we’re going to be looking at, operationally, real difficulties in the next two years for the Toronto program itself.”
A fundraising event — hosted by Neuberger & Partners LLP, Hull & Hull, the Toronto Lawyers Association and the foundation — will take place on Nov. 10 at the Rivoli on Queen Street West in Toronto. It will include pool games, a silent auction and refreshments. More details are available at lawyersfeedthehungry.ca/toronto.html.