As the holidays approach, the Jamil Niner Student Pantry is in high demand. In a video released on Dec. 1, the pantry stated that one in three college students are food insecure, about the same rate as UNC Charlotte.
According to a 2019 survey conducted by anthropology professor Dr. Nicole Peterson, about 32% of UNC Charlotte students are food insecure, which is average for a college campus. Food insecurity is defined by the USDA as a “lack of access to enough food for an active, healthy life.” Food insecurity is more common for college students than the average American household, and it can negatively impact both mental health and physical health.
It was also found that 35% of students were unaware of the pantry until this survey, but were interested in using it. However, it was found that 29% of students knew of the Jamil Niner Student Pantry but did not utilize it as they did not want anyone to know of their food insecurity.
During the fall semester, 1,316 UNC Charlotte students' orders were filled by the pantry. According to the video, during this time of COVID-19 and the holiday season, the pantry has seen an increase of 200 students a week, many of whom are non-traditional students who have families.
The Jamil Niner Student Pantry provides assistance to both undergraduate and graduate students that are food insecure. The main mission of the pantry is to ensure that no UNC Charlotte student goes without nutritious food. The pantry has also assisted in feeding many UNC Charlotte students' families, as the students may be the providers themselves.
The pantry helps to provide non-perishables and also utilizes a food recycling program, where leftover food from UNC Charlotte campus dining halls is packaged and served as hot meals.
The pantry is always in need of donations. Their official website contains a list of needed items and instructions on what to buy and where to donate, as well as online contributions.
However, after the #GivingTuesday campaign, the pantry is fully stocked for the first time. Food donations were collected via Amazon well as over $56,000 for the pantry. The virtual food drive collected over 14,000 items for a grand total of $19,629 worth of food.
The #GivingTuesday campaign also gathered alumni to compete in a cooking contest where they prepared a meal with items commonly found in the pantry to demonstrate different meal options.
Another means of helping food insecure students is the meal swipe donation plan where students can donate up to two swipes per semester to others in need.
The Jamil Student Niner Pantry is still open during the COVID-19 pandemic, and online orders can be made on the official website for pickup on Tuesdays and Wednesdays between 1:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.