According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, in 2020, more than 38 million Americans, including 12 million children, were food insecure, meaning that at times they were uncertain of having enough food to meet their needs. Food insecurity worsened during the pandemic: a reported 15 percent of households in the United States—and 18 percent of families with children—did not have enough to eat.
The firm is proud to partner with nonprofit organizations that creatively address the country’s food insecurity. Throughout 2021, we worked closely with the United Way of New York City to expand Plentiful, a free, user-friendly app-based reservation system that allows food pantry users to find food pantries in their area, reserve a time slot to pick up food, and receive updates on changing conditions at food pantries. The app allows users to incorporate social distancing and improves efficiency, equity, and client dignity in the emergency food system.
Plentiful is jointly owned by United Way of New York City and City Harvest. The app is now used by close to half of the food pantries in New York City, reaching more than 900,000 people, and demand for the app is growing across the country. Firm volunteers from various practice groups have supported Plentiful’s expansion by drafting template agreements to be used by food banks and food pantries piloting the Plentiful app, preparing data privacy and security policies, and drafting memoranda of understanding with various stakeholders. The firm also helped United Way of New York City evaluate legal options for a Plentiful spinoff and assisted with the preparation of an agreement with a consultant to oversee the spinoff.
According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, 580,466 people experienced homelessness in the United States on a single night in 2020, a 2.2 percent increase from 2019. People of color are significantly overrepresented in the homeless population, and COVID has made the housing crisis worse.
The firm regularly supports organizations that seek to end homelessness and promote the right to adequate housing. Goddard Riverside Community Center is a nonprofit that serves more than 20,000 low-income New Yorkers annually, with a primary focus on Manhattan and parts of Queens. Among its services, the organization provides permanent, affordable, and transitional housing for vulnerable populations, including older adults, formerly homeless people, and people with mental illness. Lowenstein represented Goddard in a strategic partnership with the Stanley M. Isaacs Neighborhood Center, an organization that does similar work on the Upper East Side, in which Isaacs became a subsidiary of Goddard. The partnership amplifies the distinct strengths of each organization and expands their reach and capacity to move families toward stable housing, economic stability, and self-reliance through services both organizations provide to vulnerable New Yorkers emerging from the COVID crisis. The combined organizations now serve more than 26,000 people with holistic programming covering housing, health, education, older adult centers, benefits assistance, legal assistance, and more.
The nonprofit Newark Police Foundation seeks to further the Newark Police Division’s mission of serving and protecting residents of and visitors to the city of Newark. The organization provides financial resources, which are not readily available through other means, to fund innovative programs that support public safety.
After several years of inactivity, the Foundation relaunched in 2021 with help from the firm. The reconstituted Foundation focuses on innovative community-engagement initiatives such as the Cops and Kids Community Policing Contest, a citywide contest in which the Foundation provides a grant to each precinct to develop and implement a youth community-policing program. The winning initiative, selected by the Foundation and members of the Newark community, will be replicated throughout the city in 2022, with the Foundation’s support. Creative initiatives such as this one seek to foster trust and collaboration between the police and the communities they serve.
The Latin American Legal Defense and Education Fund (LALDEF) focuses on the root causes of immigrant marginalization and seeks to empower immigrants to reach self-sufficiency and thrive by showing them how to navigate the system and find the resources they need. To that end, LALDEF provides an array of direct services to immigrants, including immigration legal services, health services, and education programs.
In 2021, we helped LALDEF navigate the ever-changing pandemic-era employment landscape so it could focus on providing essential services to the immigrant communities it serves. We updated its employee handbook, assisted with employee benefits questions, and counseled the organization on corporate governance matters.