Building on a commitment to fight hunger and raise awareness for food insecurity throughout the communities it serves, Harris Teeter has partnered with UNC Charlotte to support the Jamil Niner Student Pantry with a $100,000 gift.
Harris Teeter will provide gift cards over a 10-year period to stock and replenish the pantry’s shelves. Some of the Jamil Niner Student Pantry’s most needed items are canned chicken, canned fruit, healthy cereal, oatmeal, peanut butter, salad dressing, jelly and pasta sauce.
“We appreciate the partnership with Harris Teeter to enhance the Jamil Niner Student Pantry’s services,” said Mindy Sides-Walsh, director of Leadership and Community Engagement at UNC Charlotte. “Seventy-five percent of our students receive financial aid, and this generous gift by Harris Teeter helps support UNC Charlotte’s commitment to ensure all our students have access to nutritious food.”
Food insecurity, experienced by one in three college students, is a significant issue on U.S. college campuses. During the 2020 fall semester alone, more than 1,440 student orders were fulfilled through the Jamil Niner Student Pantry.
The Jamil Niner Student Pantry provides assistance to UNC Charlotte students who struggle with food insecurity so that every student has access to nutritious food. The Jamil Niner Student Pantry has remained open during the COVID-19 pandemic and is serving more students than ever before. Pre-pandemic, the Jamil Niner Student Pantry assisted 80 to 90 students a week. Since March 2020 that weekly number has increased to nearly 200 students a week, and the Jamil Niner Student Pantry is receiving more food requests from nontraditional students with families, who are using the campus resource for the first time.
Thanks to the generosity of the UNC Charlotte community during the 2020 #GivingTuesday Campaign held in December, the Jamil Niner Student Pantry is fully stocked for the first time since it opened in 2014. More than $56,000 in monetary gifts and food donations was raised, ensuring that 49er students have the resources they need for the spring semester and beyond.
"Many campus food pantries have either closed or been forced to limit their support over the past 10 months. Due to the generosity of so many, we'll be able to fulfill the food needs of our students over the next year," said Sides-Walsh.
“At Harris Teeter, we’re proud to feed our communities,” said Danna Robinson, communication manager for Harris Teeter. “We know that people come together around food and that food is essential to living a healthy life. We also know that many people in our communities struggle with food insecurity. That’s why our partnership with Jamil Niner Student Pantry is so important. We want to ensure students at UNC Charlotte have access to fresh, nutritious and culturally appropriate food, so they can concentrate on their education and well-being.”
Efforts to open a pantry at UNC Charlotte began in 2012, when representatives from UNC Charlotte returned from the first N.C. Campuses Against Hunger conference. The rising cost of higher education combined with lingering effects of the economic recession, the increase of nontraditional students and the ever-rising interest rates in student loans had resulted in a growing number of college and university students across the country facing food insecurity. A steering committee of faculty, staff, and students was formed in fall 2014 to direct the operation of the pantry and a grand opening was held in October 2014.
Photo: Student volunteers like Vivian Ojimadu help stock and operate the Jamil Niner Food Pantry.