Photo of Jamil Student Pantry

November is known as Hunger Awareness Month, and there have been numerous events and food drives around campus to raise awareness. 

The Jamil Niner Food Pantry held a campaign called "Swipe out Hunger" that allows students to donate their extra meal swipes to students who may need them. 

"Not every student can have a meal plan. There are food insecure students here on campus, and there are students who have meal plans who perhaps don't use all of their meal swipes. This is the way to donate those extra meal swipes that may go unused, to help your peers here on campus so that they can have access to healthy nutritious food," said Jessica Dormady, assistant director of leadership and community engagement at Jamile Niner Food Pantry. 

Students are able to donate these meal swipes on the mobile ordering app or by going to the front desk of Sovi to donate in person.

Dining services also partnered with Chartwells Higher Education to hold a Thank-Ful Friendsgiving event at SoVi on Nov. 18. 

According to a press release from Dining Services, Chartwells’ Thank-Ful event is an "opportunity for our students to come together in a school-wide 'Friendsgiving' celebration and be together as a campus."

The event featured a classic thanksgiving menu with staples such as turkey, stuffing and sweet potato pie. They also had a thankful van at the event for students to write notes about what or who they are thankful for. 

Both of these events were centered around helping food-insecure students. 

"If you look at the data, especially national data, we see a large percentage of students who are food insecure. That certainly is the case here at UNC Charlotte. I believe our data is on trend with the national data," said Dormandy. "Students who are hungry, they can't focus on their class, they can't focus on studies and achieving their goals, and that's what we want from all of our UNC Charlotte students is to be able to focus on their studies and get their degree and achieve their education goals."

"The most recent data that we have at UNC Charlotte that I know of, according to a 2019 study, 32% of UNC Charlotte students are food insecure, based on the USDA definition," said Dormandy.

The dining team donated 100 meal vouchers to help food-insecure students. The campus also hosted a non-perishable food drive from Nov. 8-18, and dining services promised to donate 25lbs of food for every 50 cans that were donated. 

The food pantry also has a lot of volunteer opportunities for students that want to help more. They can sign up through Niner Engage. 

"We did have volunteer opportunities with Swipe Out Hunger, we had the tables at Crowne, and so we usually have two, sometimes three volunteers at the table max. We have been inundated by volunteer requests. We're still in the pandemic, but a lot of those restrictions have lifted with the vaccination and everything so we're really eager to get back into in-person volunteering."

"We love our volunteers, and they're definitely our lifeblood. We couldn't do it without all of our great volunteers and donors, but we have waitlists right now. We do have group volunteer opportunities at the pantry," said Dormandy. 

The food pantry is also holding a "Giving Tuesday" campaign that goes through to Nov. 30. This campaign is a way to donate to the food pantry virtually to support the 215 students that go to them for food each week. 

People can visit the Amazon Wishlist to see what donations are needed

As of Friday, Nov. 26, the campaign has received 78 gifts and $5,341. The donation window will close at midnight on Nov. 30. 

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