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With a couple of months to go, campus food drive raises over 2,300 meals

Campus food drive. Photo provided by Katie Musgrove.

The battle against hunger has one more fighter in the Employee Forum with its UNC 2017-18 "Food For All" Campus Food Drive, benefiting Carolina Cupboard and the Food Bank of Central and Eastern NC. 

The food drive, which runs from October to March, will contribute to the University’s score in Harris Teeter’s Million Meals Challenge. The challenge pits UNC against Duke, North Carolina State University and Wake Forest University in a friendly competition to raise the most food in an effort to end food insecurity. 

When Katie Musgrove, chairperson of the community service committee in the Employee Forum, first joined the forum it seemed vital that the staff focus on public service and improving the community. 

“It shocked me that there was no staff effort here on campus to promote community service in general,” Musgrove said. 

Soon after, Musgrove had her own committee dedicated to exactly that. One of the main projects for the committee’s initial run last year was the two-week Food For All food drive. This year’s food drive expanded in length, and Musgrove hopes to surpass last year’s total 2,761 meals donated to the regional food bank and those in the campus community via Carolina Cupboard. 

“We wanted to kind of give to North Carolina people throughout the (regional) food bank, but also give to the students on campus,” Musgrove said. 

With a few months still left, this year’s food drive raised over 2,300 meals so far. Of those meals, 25 percent are given to Carolina Cupboard, a student organization that serves as a free pantry for any student without access to food. Chelsea Onyeji, public relations coordinator for Carolina Cupboard, said connecting with the Employee Forum’s food drive allows their message to spread. 

“Food is a resource that everybody needs, and not all people are able to have access to it,” Onyeji said. “And not all people are comfortable asking for it, so if you take the effort and initiative to just send the message and be out there for people to come and have access to this, we are encouraging them to be more confident and accept it in a way.” 

The food drive also holds special events to encourage donations, such as the Ruck March for Hunger, organized by the Carolina Veterans’ Organization,  and donation tables outside select football and basketball games. Shayna Hill, the Employee Forum chairperson, said the benefits of the food drive exceed the community impact for staff. 

“I feel better as a human being if I'm reaching out to my fellow human beings,” Hill said. “That improves my life. So, on a personal level, if staff are plugged in and making a difference and knowing that their small or large effort, whatever they can do, is actually putting a meal on someone's table ... Oh, my god, how amazing is that?” 

The impact for the Employee Union’s food drive is wide in scope, but some of the effects are felt right at home. 

“I may never meet someone who actually benefits and has a meal,” Hill said. “I may, I may never. What I see is the evolution and development of staff becoming wonderful citizens by participating in that effort and watching people get excited about doing community service. I like to see people plugged in and feel a greater excitement about being a staff member at UNC, not just in your primary role, whatever that might be, but also in reaching across and becoming a better citizen of the state.”

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