Food insecurity among college students is a serious issue on campuses across the country. Recent studies show that approximately 36% of students in the United States experienced food insecurity last year.
At UNC Greensboro, some of our students are also in need. That’s why the Division of Student Affairs has launched the “Spartan Essentials” initiative to address food insecurity, as well as housing insecurity, among students.
On Wednesday, Student Affairs partnered with Dining Services for an event in which anyone with a meal plan could donate meal swipes (one swipe equals one meal) to Spartans in need. More than 1,200 meal swipes were donated throughout the day, mostly by UNCG students. Given the generosity of so many Spartans, Student Affairs plans to host similar events later in the year.
Additionally, on Thursday, UNCG donated 1,223 cans of food to Spartan Open Pantry (SOP), an on-campus food pantry for students and staff in need. The purchase was made through the University’s partnership with Bestway Marketplace in Spartan Village. The donation matched the 1,223 downloads of the new UNCG Mobile app during the week before move-in in August.
Another new Spartan Essentials initiative in the works? A notification system within UNCG Mobile in which students can be notified when there is excess catering food from a campus event. The idea is that once an event ends, students who opt into the program will be notified of the remaining food and can arrive at the event location with their own food containers to pick it up.
“We know many of our students struggle and at times may not have access to a healthy meal. We want students to know they’re not alone, and we’re here to help,” said Dr. Cathy Akens, vice chancellor for student affairs. “It’s great to see members of the Spartan community – students, faculty, and staff – coming together to develop solutions and support our students. This is true evidence of UNCG’s culture of care.”
SOP, located at 509 Tate St. (College Place UMC), is open Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 5-9 p.m. Appointments can be made in an emergency. Additionally, a hot, home-cooked meal is served Wednesdays from 6-7 p.m.
SOPtoGO! is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Student Affairs office in Mossman Administration Building on campus. Students may pick up two to five non-perishable items each visit.
In addition to the SOP, the Dean of Students Office provides emergency meals for students. Meal donations from the Sept. 11 event will enable Spartan Dining to establish a donated meals bank from which the Dean of Students staff can distribute to students in need and further support UNCG’s culture of care.
Photography by Martin W. Kane, University Communications