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Large group of students celebrating graduation, Winter 2018

Matthew McGrew

Matthew McGrew smiling in a black T-shirt

McGrew Makes Impact on Food Insecurity at Charlotte

By Wyatt Crosher, Assistant Director of Communications for Student Affairs

Matthew McGrew is in just his second year at UNC Charlotte, but this sophomore in the William States Lee College of Engineering has already sparked positive changes in the lives of students on campus.

In his sophomore year, McGrew became student champion and ambassador for the Jamil Niner Student Pantry in the Collegiate Hunger Challenge. In part thanks to McGrew’s efforts, Charlotte won the challenge, earning $10,000 to support initiatives like purchasing fresh produce, bread and eggs at the pantry on a weekly basis.

All of it started because of an assignment in the University Honors Colloquium class, one of the first McGrew took at the University, where he was tasked with finding out about places on campus.

“Because of that, I went to the food pantry and volunteered there,” McGrew said. “I really enjoyed it, so I kept volunteering."

McGrew has enjoyed his time with the pantry, both for the people he’s able to work with and for those he’s able to serve. He said food insecurity — a lack of consistent access to enough food for a person to live an active, healthy life — is an important issue that he wants to help with any way possible.

"Food insecurity impacts a lot of people on campus, even if you don't realize it,” McGrew said. “It's good to know my work is helping students get through college a little bit easier."

Matthew McGrew smiling behind a load of groceries at the Jamil Niner Student Pantry
McGrew at the Jamil Niner Student Pantry

Before getting involved with the pantry, McGrew came to Charlotte from Raleigh because of how much he enjoyed the campus and its proximity to the city. He is majoring in electrical engineering with the goal to work on power grids.

McGrew became interested in electrical engineering after the power grid crisis that occurred in Texas in 2021, which left more than 4.5 million homes and businesses without power for multiple days. He also felt a reaction to the shooting attack on North Carolina’s Moore County power grid, which left up to 40,000 residential and business customers without electrical power, as another reason why he chose this field of study.

"I knew I wanted to do some sort of engineering, and the power grid issues in Texas and North Carolina just ensured that I wanted to make the power grid more reliable," McGrew said. “I’m planning on concentrating on power energy systems while I’m here, and I want to go into working with the power grid when I go into the industry."

Outside of his major, McGrew also plays the baritone in Charlotte’s Pride of Niner Nation Marching Band. He said joining the band made sense after doing so in high school, and it has helped him find a great group of friends.

With his time at Charlotte nearing the halfway point, McGrew said his current goals are to continue doing the things he has enjoyed with the University thus far: pursuing his major, working with the pantry and performing in the marching band.

Regardless of where he ends up, McGrew said his intention is to continue making a difference involving food insecurity after he leaves the University.

"I plan to continue helping with food insecurity after I graduate,” McGrew said. “I'm not sure if I'll be in Charlotte or Raleigh at that point, but it's important to me to help."

For more information on the Jamil Niner Student Pantry, visit the pantry’s website.