A small room on the bottom floor of Broughton Hall houses a student organization called the Feed the Pack Food Pantry. The walls are lined with shelves full of neatly stacked and organized cans. Feed the Pack, originally located in Harrelson Hall, has changed locations several times; however, their message and goal has remained the same.
The organization started five years ago, according to Sydney Grice, a senior studying political science and the executive director of Feed the Pack. According to Grice, many students studying political science and social work, familiar with the problem of hunger through their studies, noticed the need on campus for such an organization.
The goal of the pantry is to address food insecurity for students, staff and faculty at NC State. Grice started working with Feed the Pack during her freshman year after receiving an email about a position in the pantry.
“Food insecurity, particularly local hunger, is something that I have always been really interested in working on,” Grice said.
The concept of food security and insecurity is talked about a lot in reference to the pantry.
“Food security is a fundamental need for people, and it often goes overlooked that members of the Wolfpack are in need right now,” said Ann Lopez, a senior studying biological and agricultural engineering.
Grice defines food insecurity as not the complete lack of food, but rather the increased concern and doubt concerning where a person’s meals will come from and how they will eat.
“We acknowledge that sometimes in college you have to make really tough financial choices between a physics textbook or lunch and we don’t want that to have to be a problem,” Grice said. “Food should not have to be your number one concern in college.”
Another central theme of the pantry is their strong focus on the community, whether that is the community that they serve or the community of volunteers that work with them.
“We believe that as one community, no member of the Wolfpack should have to go hungry,” Grice said.
In order to foster this community feeling, Grice says the pantry tries to create a comfortable and relaxed environment for the people they serve. The pantry doesn’t require proof of need from the people that they serve — all that is required is a Wolfpack One ID card.
“We try to make it as much of a comfortable and safe environment as possible,” Grice said.
The community focus of Feed the Pack extends to their volunteer base and staff as well. According to Grice, a student leadership team of six people leads the pantry. This group focuses on the logistics and short-term goals of Feed the Pack. A second group, an advisory board of faculty and campus partners, acts as support for the leadership team and also helps the pantry think in the long term, according to Grice. Anyone can volunteer for Feed the Pack; volunteers range from members of their leadership teams to any faculty or students on campus.
Lopez, who has been regularly volunteering with the pantry for a year, said her favorite part of volunteering for Feed the Pack is “being a part of an organization that provides such a valuable resource to members of the NC State community.” According to Lopez, volunteers greet customers as they come in, weigh the food and keep the pantry organized and clean.
The university supports feed the Pack in various ways.
“We are a student organization so like any other student organization we are allowed to apply for appropriations grants,” Grice said.
According to Grice, NC State has been supportive in providing the space for the pantry and connecting them to helpful resources.
“Particularly, University Dining has always been really receptive to communication,” Grice said. “We’re currently in talks with them about how to develop the pantry even more.”
Grice and the leadership teams have big plans for the future of their organization. On a shorter term, they want to provide more wholesome and fresh food.
“I always feel really moved when people are so willing to give their time and resources and we are always truly touched by the generosity of other people,” Grice said. “I think that that, for me, is one of the most fulfilling parts, is to see true human goodness on a regular basis.”
Grice also wants to collect more data about the food coming in and out of the pantry as well as to generally increase the knowledge of the pantry and its services.
“Our ultimate goal is to kind of put ourselves out of business — there will be no student on our campus who is hungry,” Grice said.
Feed the Pack accepts student volunteers and donations. More information can be found at here.