Earlier this year, two young Boston entrepreneurs were in the thick of starting a food business. Their idea was to start a food truck in low-income Boston neighborhoods where they would cook and serve on-the-go meals made with ingredients sourced from local farms. Through this venture, the duo aimed to increase access to healthy, affordable, cooked foods for the people living in these neighborhoods. While they had investors lined up, the young business team had no knowledge of how to structure an equity finance agreement. With no extra money for professional services, what were they to do?
Enter the Legal Services Food Hub, a pro bono legal services project that Conservation Law Foundation launched last June under its Farm and Food Initiative. The Legal Services Food Hub is aimed at providing free transactional legal services for farmers and food entrepreneurs below a certain income cap, as well as nonprofit organizations or community groups with a primary mission to support or enhance a just and healthy food system. The goal of this project is to bolster the New England local food system by helping to keep farmers and food entrepreneurs, especially small and family-run operations, in business.
Through the Legal Services Food Hub, CLF matched these two young entrepreneurs with a skilled attorney specializing in equity finance agreements. With this legal assistance, the team now has the appropriate foundational documents to help launch a strong and successful business.
The Legal Services Food Hub now has a network of more than 60 lawyers from almost two dozen firms offering free legal help to Massachusetts farmers and food entrepreneurs who otherwise can’t afford such assistance. In the past three months, CLF has matched more than a dozen farmers, nonprofits, and food businesses like the food truck duo above with free representation.
Given that Governor Deval Patrick declared October Pro Bono Month here in Massachusetts, we’re excited that CLF’s pro bono project up and running in support of the New England food system.
For more information on the Legal Services Food Hub, including information on how to get services or join our network, please visit us at www.legalservicesfoodhub.org, or email us at email@example.com.