In November 2014, a brother and sister duo founded UNC's only on-campus food pantry, Carolina Cupboard, which provides students experiencing food insecurity with another source of food.
Carolina Cupboard’s mission is also to empower, educate and engage the community in issues surrounding food insecurity, health and nutrition — a mission the organization has continued to uphold even during the COVID-19 pandemic.
During their time as undergraduates, founders Jashawnna and Roderick Gladney said they spoke to their peers about the challenges of finding accessible and inexpensive food options on campus. Whether it was being able to afford a meal plan, or having access to a grocery store off campus, they found that most students experienced some level of food insecurity.
“As a global studies and public policy major, which are both rooted in research, I began to learn more by observing the nature of campus and realizing that Chapel Hill itself is a food desert,” Jashawnna Gladney said.
A 2016 study found that among all undergraduate and graduate UNC students, over 22 percent experienced food insecurity, which is higher than the national average of 13 percent.
An additional 22 percent of students experienced marginal food security, which relates to anxiety over food sufficiency or shortage of food in the house, as defined by the United States Department of Agriculture.
Desirée Rieckenberg, dean of students at UNC, said in a statement that food insecurity is complicated and determined by variety of factors.
"Everyone’s situation is different, so we encourage students to reach out to the dean of students as a start to help address their specific situation," Rieckenberg said.
Carolina Cupboard is organized by students and for students, Kayla Brown, vice president of Carolina Cupboard, said. The organization provides everyday necessities, such as canned goods, hygiene products and snacks for students of all preferences, including for vegetarians and vegans.
“Our mission is to provide food,” Brown said. “Food is a human right, everyone deserves it. Food should be for everyone and should not depend on one’s economic status.”
The way the organization works is two-fold: providing food assistance to individuals within the UNC community and educating individuals to increase their knowledge and awareness of food insecurity, Jashawnna Gladney said.
If students are interested in visiting the pantry, they first have to visit Carolina Cupboard’s website and book an appointment.
Due to COVID-19, Carolina Cupboard has two days of scheduled pick up appointments: Tuesday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. and Thursday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Carolina Cupboard’s food pantry is located on 295 Ridge Road, Chapel Hill in Avery Residence Hall’s basement.
Once students come to the pantry, they can collect their pre-packaged bag at their designed time slot. If students are unable to make it to Carolina Cupboard during operating hours, they can email executive board members to make alternative arrangements.
Brown said Carolina Cupboard has been limited in providing and accepting donations due to the pandemic.
“Since we are in a pandemic, we wanted to reduce the numbers inside the cupboard," Brown said. We’re not allowing people right now."
Along with distributing food resources to on-campus students, Carolina Cupboard also accepts any food resources donated by University students or organizations.
If students are interested in donating goods, they can email Carolina Cupboard or follow their Instagram (@uncfoodpantry) for upcoming events and information.
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