Combating Food Insecurity at UNC: The Carolina Cupboard’s Mission to Feed and Support Students in Need
At UNC-Chapel Hill, roughly 1 out of every 5 students experiences food insecurity.
To be more specific, over 22% of UNC students are food-insecure, meaning that there are at least 5,500 students at UNC-Chapel Hill who face some sort of financial/accessibility issue to food on campus at some point during their enrollment. But why is this the case?
Focusing on the undergraduate student population at UNC-Chapel Hill, there is an even higher reported food insecurity rate of 25%, with many students skipping meals or cutting back on food due to financial constraints. According to Kayla Brown, a current senior at UNC and the President of the Carolina Cupboard pantry, South Campus poses the challenges of being a food desert while North Campus, including Franklin Street, can be expensive, impacting many off-campus students.
“On top of taking their classes, off-campus students typically do not have a meal plan, are working at least one-part time job, and have financial pressure to pay off bills from off-campus housing. This results in a large demographic of food-insecure students being off-campus at UNC,” Kayla says.
As a result, UNC’s food insecurity rate, which remains one of the highest compared to those of NC counties, raises the urgency and importance of food insecurity on college campuses. Food insecurity is largely associated with detrimental impacts, such as worsening academic performance as well as exacerbating health conditions. This highlights the importance of food pantries on college campuses, as these pantries—including Carolina Cupboard (UNC) and Feed the Pack (NC State)—are some of the few pantries on college campuses striving to alleviate food hunger. The Carolina Cupboard is just one of three food pantries on UNC’s campus, yet oftentimes, undergraduate students don’t utilize these pantries due to a general lack of knowledge or the stigma associated with visiting food pantries according to Kayla.
Carolina Cupboard is a student-run, food pantry located in the basement of Avery Residence Hall on UNC’s campus, providing food and toiletry items at no cost to Carolina students. The pantry was founded in 2014 by Roderick Gladney and Jashawnna Gladney, a brother and sister who were both concerned about the issue of hunger for UNC students. Since then, the Carolina Cupboard has grown immensely through regular donations from the community—including the CDC, PORCH, and TABLE nonprofits—as well as collaboration with various clubs and organizations on campus, including the Carolina Community Garden/Edible Campus UNC program and more.
The Carolina Cupboard (located at Avery Residence Hall), CJ Cupboard (located at 2210 McGavran-Greenberg Hall) for Gillings students, and other organizations like it are essential in the fight against food insecurity. Open from 10am – 4pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays, the Carolina Cupboard offers the convenience for students to select whatever food they would like (similar to a grocery store), with no questions asked. By providing a safe and supportive environment, organizations like Carolina Cupboard help ensure that all students have access to the resources they need to succeed.
If you are a student at UNC or another college or university and are experiencing food insecurity, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. Organizations like the Carolina Cupboard are here to support you and can provide the resources you need to succeed. And if you are able, consider donating to the Cupboard or other organizations working to address food insecurity on college campuses. Together, we can work to ensure that all students have access to the food and resources they need to thrive.
Get in touch with Carolina Cupboard by going to carolinacupboard.web.unc.edu or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.