Spartan Food Insecurity Fund
Students experiencing food insecurity is a prevalent and growing issue for college campuses nationwide. An increasing number of students simply do not have enough money to purchase regular meals. To alleviate hunger, many colleges and universities, including UNC Greensboro, rely on food banks, either on campus or in the community. A recent visit to the Spartan Open Pantry at College Place United Methodist Church by Chancellor and Mrs. Gilliam and Vice Chancellor for University Advancement Beth Fischer opened a conversation, which sparked an idea.
Founded, funded, and operated by Wesley-Luther campus ministry, Spartan Open Pantry (SOP) has been serving hungry UNCG students since 2009. With nearly one in three students reporting food insecurity over the last year, SOP provides a lifeline. The Gilliams’ and Beth’s conversation with Director Andrew Mails revealed that hardships caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, such as job loss and family crises, have exponentially increased student need for the assistance the food pantry provides. The takeaway? We have to do more to reduce hunger on UNCG’s campus.
The idea that resulted is the Spartan Food Insecurity Fund, which allows donor gifts to be used at the discretion of UNCG’s vice chancellor for Student Affairs to support SOP To-Go food distribution centers or other food insecurity initiatives at the University. SOP To-Go stocks two food “cabinets” on campus to provide students with quick and easy access to snacks, light meals, and non-perishable food items outside SOP’s distribution hours.
Currently SOP To-Go at the Mossman Administration building is not operating, due to the closing of campus, but the Student Health Center location remains open. The hope is that monetary gifts to the Spartan Food Insecurity Fund will provide resources to stock three additional SOP To-Go stations at strategic locations planned for the fall semester. As of mid-July, the fund has raised nearly $4,000.
“Our students need us now more than ever! All together we are creating a culture of care which in turn motivates our students to become their best selves,” says Associate Vice Chancellor and Dean of Students Dr. Brett Carter.
Not only does the Spartan Food Insecurity Fund meet an immediate need for students suffering from hunger, it also will make a long-term impact for their future. Food insecurity affects students’ health, safety, and well-being, and is linked to diminished academic success and lower graduation rates. Providing accessible nutrition to students in need will help them excel in their studies, graduate, and become self-sufficient members of their communities.
To make your gift to the Spartan Food Insecurity Fund, please visit http://giveto.uncg.edu/
Story by Chris Garton, Donor and Board Engagement
These unrestricted gifts represent a flexible, immediate, and essential source of funds for the University.