Since 2012, Feed the Pack has received a lot of attention on campus. We currently partner with over 20 campus departments as a part of our Pack the Shelves food collection program, and last year we moved from the basement of Broughton to a former C-Store space in the Quad Commons. With refrigeration and the support of University Dining, we will be able to offer fresh produce beginning on November 18. Given all of these changes, you might walk into the new and improved pantry and think that NC State is well on its way to reducing basic-needs issues among our student body. Unfortunately, that is not the case.
For starters, a food pantry can only ever be one part of the solution to food insecurity. No matter how hard our leadership team works, Feed the Pack cannot make more than 5,000 students food secure. That is more students than are in the first-year class, and it is also the number of students at NC State that experience food insecurity, according to a survey conducted by Dr. Mary Haskett in the fall of 2017. With 14% of our student body experiencing food insecurity and 10% experiencing housing insecurity, it seems pretty clear that only large-scale, institutional efforts can address these pressing issues.
Pack Essentials, a volunteer group of NC State faculty and staff members, has been working to identify all of the resources available to students and develop potential solutions for basic needs issues. This week, they submitted a call to action to Chancellor Woodson and Provost Arden asking for support. With the vision of NC State to become a “preeminent technological research university recognized around the globe for its innovative education and research addressing the grand challenges of society,” it seems fitting that we first find innovative solutions to the very real problems and inequalities that exist on our own campus.
I believe that NC State can live up to its promise to students and be a leader in the nation in addressing access to basic needs. The question now is, do Chancellor Woodson and the university administration believe that too?
Jayna Lennon is a fourth-year student studying political science and Arabic and is the Executive Director of Feed the Pack.