N.C. Central University’s campus pantry in room 204C of the Miller-Morgan Building is tackling food insecurity among students, staff, and faculty through innovative ways.
The grocery store experience in the Miller-Morgan Building, curbside pick-up and to-go bags are options Eagles have when utilizing the pantry on 500 Nelson Street, Durham, NC.
The pantry offers staples such as water, juice, rice, cereal, pasta, noodles, baked goods, canned fruits, vegetables, beans, and sauces. Hygiene essentials, feminine care, baby products, and household items are also available.
The campus pantry started as an idea in 2013 and was officially opened in 2014 by NCCU staff and faculty members after seeing the need on campus.
With the help of social work interns, volunteers, and staff members, the pantry has grown a tremendous amount of support.
In February 2022, 42 recruited student volunteers joined the team.
“It’s definitely not just me. I’m happy to be a part of the history but, it’s been years of kind of pulling things together and making sure we have a place in the campus and earn the students and
whole campus’ trust,” said Mitchell Moravec, director of the pantry. The trust of the pantry volunteers was earned when they experienced the good it brought not only to themselves, but to the community around them.
Over 200 volunteer hours were served through the service volunteer program.
“I started after I found out about it. I found that it was very resourceful for students, and I wanted to help spread the word about it and get more students to kind of come again to see what it’s about and help them out,” campus pantry volunteer, Kiai Evans said.
Unfortunately, food insecurity is a common experience among college students.
“Some college students don’t work, so it is a lot of broke college students–a lot more than you would think. They don’t have food in their room. I remember my freshman year I didn’t have
food,” campus pantry volunteer, LaDarrya Graham said.
“Even though we have restaurants and things on campus, flex only goes so far.”
A lot of people struggle in silence. Whether it is due to shame, or feeling inadequate to receive help, the campus pantry aims to break the stigma of embarrassment and guilt of receiving free food.
In efforts to overcome stigmatization, they are working to make people aware of their presence on NCCU’s campus.
As a result of the pandemic, the pantry’s resources were closed in 2020 and have just recently reopened in the fall of 2021. Around 25 to 30 students, staff, and faculty members make weekly visits to the pantry since their opening, which is lower than they would have expected.
Although their service numbers were not meeting pre-pandemic data in the fall of 2021, the pantry has seen a 100% increase in usage since the beginning of 2022.
Pantry staff are excited about the turnaround because its influx of resources is now being utilized. This February, 160 households and 261 individuals were served through community outreach and donations.
Donations are made through drop-offs from locals, food drives, and their main connection– the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle.
In addition to the donations made, the campus pantry has secured major grants that enhanced the community.
In September 2022, Harris Teeter Supermarkets, Inc., supplied NCCU’s food pantry with a $50,000 grant. The grant will be dispersed in increments of $10,000 every year for five years.
This grant will be used for stocking and replenishing the pantry with the essentials Eagles and the community need. They have secured another $11,000 grant from the Durham Congregations in Action to upgrade the food storage equipment.
To join the fight against food insecurity, you can donate monetarily through the campus pantries website, https://www.nccucampuspantry.com/, or bring items to the Miller Morgan Building.
To further support, you can sign up to volunteer through the website as well. The pantry’s current hours are Monday-Friday from 10 am-4 pm, or by appointment.
Appointment requests should be made to [email protected] or by text at 919-764-4479.