By Wyatt Crosher, Assistant Director of Communications for Student Affairs
UNC Charlotte earned $10,000 to address food insecurity in the fourth annual Collegiate Hunger Challenge, finishing first among 14 other North Carolina colleges and universities. The competition is judged on events, collecting rewards program participants, social media posts, check-in meeting attendance and shopping points.
The Collegiate Hunger Challenge was created by Food Lion Feeds and North Carolina Campus Engagement, a collaborative network of colleges and universities committed to educating students on civic and social responsibility. The competition ran from Sept. 26, 2022 to Jan. 6 of this year.
As a reward for the first-place finish, which was announced Jan. 13, the University will receive a $10,000 check to support food insecurity initiatives. This will be used to purchase fresh produce, bread and eggs at the Jamil Niner Student Pantry on a weekly basis.
Jes Dormady, assistant director in Leadership & Community Engagement who oversees the pantry, said those are the most requested items, but that rising costs of these items in recent months have made them difficult to purchase. These additional funds will help close the gap and stock the pantry again for nearly 800 shoppers.
"Winning the NC Collegiate Hunger Challenge means a great deal to the Jamil Niner Student Pantry,” Dormady said. “Not only do we now have the funds to purchase fresh foods every week, but by participating in the competition we were able to raise the profile of our pantry on campus."
The University’s challenge was led by student champion Matthew McGrew, a sophomore electrical engineering major and dedicated pantry volunteer motivated by his passion for assisting people experiencing food insecurity. In fall 2022, UNC Charlotte hosted 11 official events and many unofficial ones. The social media effort yielded 56 Instagram posts/reels using the #NinersFeed and #FoodLionFeeds.
"Winning this award was important to me, not only for the prize money that will improve the food for our shoppers, but also because it will increase awareness that we have a food pantry on campus for all who need it,” McGrew said.
The statewide Collegiate Hunger Challenge began in 2018, and Charlotte has participated three times: also competing in 2018 and 2020. This is the University’s first time winning the challenge.
A check presentation ceremony will occur on Wednesday, Feb. 15, at the North Carolina Campus Compact President’s Forum at High Point University, followed up with an awards banquet for participants in March.