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Before the Pack and Heels face off in football, they’re battling in the ‘Pantry Bowl’

It’s rivalry week for UNC-Chapel Hill and N.C. State on the football field, but the competition is heating up before Friday night’s kickoff, too.

The two schools are vying to raise the most money in the “Pantry Bowl” to reduce food insecurity on two campuses.

The money will go directly to the student-run campus food pantries, Carolina Cupboard and Feed the Pack.

About one in five students at UNC-CH and N.C. State can’t afford to pay for meals or don’t have reliable access to food because of financial struggles, according to recent university data.

And the pandemic has exacerbated the problem.

About 23% of N.C. State students reported experiencing food insecurity in the prior 30 days, according to a 2020 NCSU study. And 15% of the 1,400 students surveyed said they had experienced homelessness since the start of the pandemic. Those numbers jumped from 14% and about 10%, respectively, that were reported in 2017.

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UNC-Chapel Hill and N.C. State are competing in the Pantry Bowl to raise money for the student-run campus food pantries, Carolina Cupboard and Feed the Pack. Screenshot of Pantry Bowl website

At Carolina, 22% of undergraduate and graduate students experience food insecurity, according to UNC.

“You’ve got these students who are working really hard, making tremendous sacrifices financially to get a college degree … and they’re worried about how they’re going to eat,” said Jim Broschart, associate vice chancellor for university development at N.C. State, who helped organize the event.

It’s not always an easy problem to see on campus, but students need help and the universities can offer some relief through these services, Broschart said.

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The Carolina Cupboard, an on-campus food pantry, provides free food for students facing food insecurity. UNC-Chapel Hill/Carolina Cupboard

The Feed the Pack food pantry is open three days a week in the Honors Commons Building for NCSU students, staff, faculty and recent graduates to shop for free.

UNC’s Carolina Cupboard is currently open on Thursdays at Avery Residence Hall by appointment only for students to pick up free, pre-packaged bags of food.

The schools have raised more than $56,000 — and UNC-CH leads 383-367 — in the number of gifts, as of Wednesday afternoon.

Individuals can give money to either “team” at www.pantrybowl.com and the donations are tax-deductible. Both pantries also accept food and hygiene items, though they don’t count toward the competition.

The fundraiser runs up until kickoff of the Tar Heels v. Wolfpack Black Friday rivalry game on Friday, Nov. 26. at 7 p.m. at Carter-Finley Stadium.

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Kate Murphy covers higher education for The News & Observer. Previously, she covered higher education for the Cincinnati Enquirer on the investigative and enterprise team and USA Today Network. Her work has won state awards in Ohio and Kentucky and she was recently named a 2019 Education Writers Association finalist for digital storytelling.
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