Andrew Stowe is a co-chairperson of Nourish-UNC, the Campus Y committee that hosts Hunger Lunch. Stowe said the program, which sells rice and bean lunches as a fundraiser on Wednesdays, has been temporarily discontinued because it was no longer profitable for the caterer.
“Our caterer, who is (Triangle Residential Options for Substance Abusers), we’ve been working with them for over 10 years, but it’s not profitable for them to deliver to UNC anymore because they’re based in Durham, and one of the core values of Nourish is fostering mutually beneficial partnerships for everyone we work with, and if it’s not profitable for them anymore, we don’t feel right kind of pushing that and trying to make it work,” he said.
Willie Lane, who works with TROSA catering, said Hunger Lunch costs more than it can bring in. “It’s not financially feasible to do it,” he said. “It would cost you all so much that you’d hardly make anything off of it.”
Hannah Sloan, Nourish-UNC co-chairperson, said the group is hoping to continue providing meals in some way.
“We still want to provide a low cost meal to students,” Sloan said. “That’s been a really valuable thing for students to have Hunger Lunch around, so we want to find a way to do that with a positive, again, mutually beneficial community partnership.”
But TROSA does much more than just catering.
“What they do is provide residential care for anyone who is struggling with substance abuse,” Sloan said. “It’s a really comprehensive and admirable program model, and they have this program where they do really intensive counseling for their residents, and they also have a number of business opportunities.”
Lane said the partnership with Nourish has been a good experience for TROSA residents.
“That’s played a big part,” he said. “Guys that have come in and never cooked can now prepare food, deliver food, so it’s been tremendous.”
While Stowe said there are no definite plans for what Hunger Lunch will look like when it returns, he said Nourish’s goal is to host the lunch again March 2.
“The beginning of this semester, we’re working out how Hunger Lunch will operate,” he said. “If it’s getting a new caterer or changing the model up, taking the first part of the semester to figure out what the best way to go forward will be.”
Stowe said re-evaluating Hunger Lunch and preparing for its future is exciting.
“I think a lot of people have a misconception of what Hunger Lunch is in that it’s fighting hunger, and that’s a reasonable assumption, but Nourish is a lot more than just that,” Stowe said.
Sloan said they are looking for new community partners.
“We’re looking for food, consistency and a really positive partnership,” she said.