Food insecurity affects students on U.S. college campuses at a rate that is often higher than twice that of the general population. UNC Charlotte is no exception; in fact, during the 2017 fall semester, 303 students visited the Jamil Niner Student Pantry, located near main campus at 1224 John Kirk Drive.
“People are often surprised to hear that a significant number of students have trouble affording food, sometimes compromising their food needs to pay rent,” said Sean Langley, assistant director of leadership and community engagement. “UNC Charlotte addresses the issue head on, year-round and through activities and volunteering by students, faculty and staff during National Homelessness and Hunger Awareness Week.”
The Jamil Niner Student Pantry, in operation since 2014, operates year-round, provides food donated by UNC Charlotte students and parents, Food Lion, Chartwells, and the community. It’s named for benefactor and UNC Charlotte trustee Dhiaa Jamil ’78, executive vice president and chief operating officer, Duke Energy, who experienced food insecurity as a UNC Charlotte student. Students, faculty and staff may volunteer at the pantry year-round, Monday through Thursday, 1:45 to 3:15 p.m., or 3:30 to 5 p.m., serving as greeters, shelf stockers, housekeepers, gardeners or thank-you-note writers.
Swipe Out Hunger allows UNC Charlotte students with a meal plan to donate meal swipes from their 49er ID card to students who are facing food insecurity. Students who need to utilize the program can complete an assessment with Student Assistance and Support Services. (In addition, students can apply declining balance at Outtakes or SoVi Market + Bakery to purchase Hunger Relief Packs for $25 or $49 to donate to their fellow students.) Another national program, Campus Kitchens, operates at UNC Charlotte with food service provider Chartwells. Since 1991, Chartwells has donated food after events to local homeless shelters and food pantries. This fall, that effort expanded to provide food to the Jamil Niner Student Pantry.
Check out these special opportunities during National Homelessness and Hunger Week:
- Monday, Nov. 12, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.—Hunger and Homelessness Week Kickoff. Stop by SoVi or Crown Commons Dining Hall to donate needed items to the Jamil Niner Student Pantry. Learn about Swipe Out Hunger and Food Lion Feeds, and sign a pledge to participate throughout the week. Sponsored by the Office of Leadership and Community Engagement
- Tuesday, Nov. 13, and Thursday, Nov. 15, 6 to 8 p.m.—Volunteer at Second Harvest Metrolina. Student, faculty and staff volunteers will sort and stock food at this community-based organization committed to fighting hunger locally. To sign up, email Autumn Robertson, email@example.com. Transportation is available
- Wednesday, Nov. 14, CHHS, Room 147, 6 to 8 p.m.—Niner Discussion: Understanding Hunger and Homelessness in Charlotte. Sean Langley, who co-founded the Jamil Niner Student Pantry with Kim Buch, Department of Psychological Science, will lead a discussion prior to the showing of “A Place at the Table,” a documentary that highlights the stories of three Americans struggling with food poverty and outlines a way to solve hunger in the United States. No reservations needed
- Thursday, Nov. 15, 11 p.m. to 2 a.m., CHHS/COED Courtyard—“Sleep Out.” Simulate (in a safe setting) the experience of those who live and sleep outdoors. Cardboard boxes will be provided; bring coats, hats, gloves appropriate for the weather
- Friday, Nov. 16, 1 to 2 p.m.,—Tour Niner Student Pantry (1224 John Kirk Drive). Students, faculty and staff are invited to learn more about the ways UNC Charlotte is combating food insecurity on campus
- Support Food Lion Feeds—When faculty, staff and students download the Food Lion app or obtain a Food Lion MVP card (or send their MVP Card number to firstname.lastname@example.org), and shop at Food Lion, 9323 N. Tryon Street, UNC Charlotte earns one point for every $10 spent for a chance to win $10,000
- See articles and videos about the issue of hunger among college students and UNC Charlotte’s effort
- Read “A University-Community Partnership to Combat Food Insecurity among College Students,” coauthored by Kim Buch, Sean Langley, Tamara Johnson and Nakiel Coleman
- Alumna Robin Emmons, is founder of Sow Much Good, a nonprofit organization that grows environmentally friendly crops to combat hunger in the Charlotte area
- Beth Racine, Department of Public Health Sciences, is featured on WSOC-TV in regard to “food deserts” in Charlotte