The cost of higher education has risen nearly 580% since 1985, which far exceeds the 120% inflation rate increase during the same period (US Department of Labor). This fact, combined with the lingering effects of the economic recession, the increase in the number of non-traditional students, and the ever-rising interest rates in student loans, has resulted in a growing class of Americans facing food insecurity-college and university students.
In recognition of this problem, there has been a national boom of new food pantries opening on college campuses during the past two years. The state of North Carolina is part of this national trend-at least twelve food campuses have opened on NC campuses within the past 18 months.
Efforts to open a pantry at UNC Charlotte began in 2012, when the UNC Charlotte team returned from the First Annual NC Campuses Against Hunger Conference and its first recommendation was to initiate plans to open a food pantry on Campus. The Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs at that time, Dr. Art Jackson, re-initiated campus efforts which culminated in the search for campus space to house the pantry. Dr. Fary Cachelin of Psychology made space available in room 3135 Colvard Building. A partnership with Food Lion to provide food for the Pantry followed in the summer of 2014 and stocked the pantry in August that same year in preparation. A steering Committee of faculty, staff, and students was formed in Fall 2014 to direct the operation of the pantry and a grand opening was held in October 2014.
We seek to address food insecurity at UNC Charlotte by adopting many of the strategies used by UNC Greensboro, VCU, Michigan State University, and the more than 120 other student food pantries across the nation, to address hunger among college students.
Our hope is that the Jamil Niner Student Pantry will become a sustainable solution to the problem of food insecurity among students at UNC Charlotte, and that it will also provide a valuable service learning experience for UNC Charlotte student volunteers.