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.
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.
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.
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.