Carolina Cupboard relies on donations and volunteers because, as a student organization, it cannot buy food from local food banks. Gladney said the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina only allows for nonprofits to purchase food from it.
Once the pantry opens, students will be able to help by donating food, sorting and distributing food, or hosting their own food drive.
In April 2013, Gladney became interested in starting a food pantry during his time in student government. After hearing students’ experiences about food insecurity problems, he started to develop Carolina Cupboard.
“I became very passionate about finding better ways to serve the student body,” he said.
Gladney found that UNC provided many opportunities for its students and staff, but it lacked in recognizing the food insecurity problem.
“With everything I try to do with this organization, I try to educate, empower and engage the community on the food insecurities in the nutrition aspect and the academic performance aspect of the organization,” he said.
Sophomore Keagan Trahan, a member of Carolina Cupboard, thinks food insecurity shouldn’t be a problem at UNC and hopes to help address the problem in any possible way.
“For me, I know that coming to Carolina has been such a good experience, and I just want to make everyone else’s experience as good as mine has been,” she said.
Sophomore biology major Vy Nguyen believes a food pantry for students is a great idea.
“It’s Carolina’s way of saying, ‘Hey, we can provide for any group or anybody,’ even those who are hungry,” she said. “I think that’s a good name for Carolina, being able to incorporate the needs of different people, and the food pantry could be good for the hungry.”
Gladney believes it’s his moral obligation to help the students and staff at UNC, and by creating Carolina Cupboard, he hopes to accomplish that goal.
“When I signed my signature on the commitment to enroll at UNC, I basically accepted a second last name being Tar Heel,” he said. “By having a second last name, I believe everybody at this University is a part of a big family, and as a family, you wouldn’t want to see anyone suffering if it can be prevented.”