A food line six years ago at Boysen Park in Anaheim made all the difference in the world to the Soledad family. "I saw my mother crying because we had just been eating canned foods," recalls Sergio Soledad, a 17-year-old Loara High School student at the time. The son of Mexican immigrant parents from Guadalajara, Soledad doesn't remember what charitable group helped out his family that day, but the impact they made stays with him. "We got fresh fruits and vegetables. My mother's tears were tears of joy."
When a fellow at the LA-based Munger, Tolles & Olson firm, the future law school student found a way to give back and help fight food insecurity. The legal community came together for its annual "Food From the Bar" campaign donating funds and time to a local food bank. "I saw the impact that it had," Soledad, now 23, says. He enjoyed the experience and, better yet, the results. This year, LA's Food From the Bar campaign raised $450,000. They gave out 5,000 pounds of food and enlisted 722 volunteers at the food bank.
While Food From the Bar first started in 2009, Soledad wanted to bring the campaign back to his home county before leaving for law school at Howard University in Washington D.C. this year. A parent liaison for the Magnolia School District in Anaheim, Soledad works with many families struggling with food insecurity. He helped start a monthly food pantry and weekly backpack full of fresh produce program in the district.
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As part of Food From the Bar's Steering Committee and with the help of Kathleen McDowell of his fellowship firm, Soledad partnered the Orange County Bar Association with the Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County. The month-long campaign got underway on May 1 and continues until June 2. Food From the Bar enlists a growing number of law firms and other groups with an ambitious $100,000 goal that translates into 300,000 meals for those in need.
"I wanted to help my profession help others," Eric Houser, President of Houser & Allison APC, said in a press release. "I have watched this county grow and along with it, the hunger crisis. We should be able to solve this problem." Food From the Bar has prizes for firms that raise the most money to keep things competitive. "Pie the Partner" offers the opportunity to pie a lawyer in the face for a price to keep things festive. OC's first-ever campaign raised about $5,000 in the first week.
Fifty volunteers handed out food at the Irvine Farm and Mobile Pantry in Orange last weekend, bringing Soledad full circle to his experience as a teen at Boysen Park. "Even if we don't raise $100,000, we will be helping provide meals," he says. "If I can't donate money, somebody else can. We need to make it happen!"
Find out how you can get involved by emailing FFTBC[at]feedOC.org