Members of the NC State community package meals at "North Carolina Campuses Against Hunger," a hunger-fighting summit held at Elon University in October.

To Stop Hunger

November 20, 2012

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The college student living off junk food: it’s an image we’re all familiar with, and one that’s often a source of humor.

It’s not so funny, however, for students who can’t afford nourishing food. As part of its comprehensive effort to eradicate hunger, NC State has recently confronted student food insecurity head-on by opening “Feed The Pack,” an on-campus food pantry. Opened in mid-November in Harrelson Hall, the pantry offers food for students and employees who need it.

“With all of the expenses of succeeding here at NC State, food may be one of the first things that they cut out of the budget” to pay for academic needs and opportunities, said Sarah Wright, a tutor coordinator in the student support services office.

There are no firm numbers on how many NC State community members have difficulty affording food, Wright said. But growth in students with financial need brings with it an increase in students who lack access to healthy food.

Economic diversity is critical on college campuses, so the fact that there’s a need for food pantries isn’t a negative,” Wright said. “What’s positive is when the campus says … we’re going to support you like we support tutoring, like we support studying abroad, like we support preparing for graduate school.”

Wright was one of 18 NC State delegates to “NC Campuses Against Hunger: A Call to Action to End Hunger In Our Lifetime,” a summit held at Elon University on Oct. 10-11. NC State was one of the sponsors of the event, where students, faculty and staff from 22 U.S. colleges and universities strategized about higher education’s role in fighting hunger on campus and across the globe.

Sophomore Ryan O’Donnell (left) helps pack meals at an October 2011 higher-education summit to fight hunger.

The summit, where NC State had the largest delegation, built momentum around the issue, said Melissa Green, associate director of the Center for Student Leadership, Ethics and Public Service (CSLEPS).

“People from all across this campus and every part of the community have a commitment to ending hunger,” she said.

NC State’s commitment to fighting hunger doesn’t stop at the edge of campus. The university has a longstanding relationship with Stop Hunger Now, a Raleigh-based hunger relief agency started in 1998. At annual meal-packing events for the organization, NC State students and employees have packaged more than 2 million meals that have gone around the world.

Combining idealism and industriousness, sophomore Ryan O’Donnell is emblematic of NC State’s work on hunger prevention. As a student at the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics, he helped lead a food drive that set a Guiness world record for food collected in a 24-hour event at a single location.

O’Donnell won the 2012 President William Jefferson Clinton Hunger Leadership Award, given annually to a college student who has demonstrated leadership in fighting hunger and poverty.
He is the second NC State student to win the award in its four-year history.

Universities don’t have to choose between addressing hunger locally and globally, according to O’Donnell.

“We’re going to tackle both,” said O’Donnell, who also participated in the summit at Elon. “Universities can play a role in both.”

Can and do. Hunger-fighting is a perfect fit for NC State’s land-grant mission, according to Mike Giancola, associate vice provost for student leadership and engagement.

“It’s at the intersection of our cutting-edge research, our student service, our education and our outreach,” he said.

Photo Gallery

Registration at Elon University. NC A&T University's Michelle Eley laughs while chatting with another conference attendee. NC State's Dr. George Wilson and Mike Giancola chat during a break at the 2012 NC Campuses Against Hunger conference. Information and workshop notes at the 2012 NC Campuses Against Hunger conference.CSLEPS.HungerSummit.8658 Beth Parrish of Western Piedmont Community College pays close attention to workshop leader Phil Gordon from Single Stop USA. Students listen during workshop at the 2012 NC Campuses Against Hunger conference at Elon University. Joshua Mackey of Lenoir-Rhyne University (left)  watches a presentation during a workshop at the 2012 NC Campuses Against Hunger conference at Elon University. Students and campus leaders participate in one of five workshops. Workshop participant Aaron Wilson of UNC-Pembroke watches a presentation. Notes fill a board during a workshop about issues causing hunger in our communities. NC State professor James Kiwanula-Tondo makes a passionate statement regarding hunger back in his native home of Uganda during a workshop session. NC State's Associate Vice Provost Dr. Cindy DeLuca and other workshop participants listen to a speaker's presentation at the 2012 NC Campuses Against Hunger conference. Paula Hunker, Senior Policy Advisor for the World Food Programme and distinguished visiting professor at Auburn University, Alabama leads the 'Policy & politics related to alleviating hunger' workshop. Conference attendees listen during the 'Policy & politics related to alleviating hunger' workshop lead by Paula Hunker from Auburn University. 2012 NC Campuses Against Hunger attendee Tinece Holman from NC A&T chats with another participant during a workshop break. NC State's Nancy Creamer chats with a conference attendee after her workshop. Former President William Jefferson Clinton Hunger Leadership Award winner John Coggin listens during a workshop presentation. 2012 NC Campuses Against Hunger conference attendees listen during a workshop presentation. Conference attendees listen to a presentation. CSLEDavid Lambert asks 'Why are people hungry? What are the issues?' during his keynote speech.PS.HungerSummit.9091 Conference attendees listen to a workshop presentation. 2012 NC Campuses Against Hunger attendees during the conference. Soy, ready to be added to the Stop Hunger Now meal package. 2012 NC Campuses Against Hunger conference attendees package 10,000 meals for Stop Hunger Now. 2012 NC Campuses Against Hunger conference attendees package 10,000 meals for Stop Hunger Now. 2012 NC Campuses Against Hunger conference attendees package 10,000 meals for Stop Hunger Now. Some of the members of the NC State group show their Pack pride before packaging 10,000 meals for Stop Hunger Now. Conference keynote speaker David Lambert and 2012 NC Campuses Against Hunger conference attendees package over 10,000 meals for Stop Hunger Now. Dehydrated vegetables: a part of 10,000 meals for Stop Hunger Now. Brittani Newton-Blanchard of UNC-Pembroke seals a meal package as 2012 NC Campuses Against Hunger conference attendees make more than 10,000 meals for Stop Hunger Now. Dehydrated vegetables are added to the mix as 2012 NC Campuses Against Hunger conference attendees package over 10,000 meals for Stop Hunger Now. NC State's Dr. Marian McCord is a blur as she delivers filled food packages as 2012 NC Campuses Against Hunger conference attendees package over 10,000 meals for Stop Hunger Now. 2012 NC Campuses Against Hunger conference attendees package over 10,000 meals for Stop Hunger Now. NC State's Ryan O'Donnell (left) and 2012 NC Campuses Against Hunger conference attendees package over 10,000 meals for Stop Hunger Now. Singer, songwriter and peace activist David LaMotte delivers the evening's plenary 'Food Security: A Peace and Justice Issue.' Singer, songwriter and peace activist David LaMotte delivers the evening's plenary 'Food Security: A Peace and Justice Issue.' North Carolina Campuses Against Hunger attendees chat over coffee prior to the second day sessions. North Carolina Campuses Against Hunger attendees look over posters and discuss ideas prior to the second day sessions. North Carolina Campuses Against Hunger attendees discuss ideas prior to the second day sessions. Keynote speaker David Lambert (left) chats with North Carolina Campus Compact executive director Dr. Lisa Keyne (center) and Elon president Leo Lambert prior to start the second morning sessions. Morning keynote speaker June Henton, Dean of College of Human Sciences, Director of the International Hunger Institute, Auburn University delivers her address 'Higher Education Taking on Hunger.' Conference attendees listen to remarks by Leo M. Lambert, President, Elon University. Leo M. Lambert, President, Elon University, welcomes attendees to the second day of the 2012 North Carolina Campuses Against Hunger conference. Former congresswoman Eva Clayton chats with other speakers during the North Carolina Campuses Against Hunger conference at Elon. NC State's Mike Giancola (right) goes over the second day agenda with Stop Hunger Now's Rod Brooks. Paula Hunker, Senior Policy Advisor for the World Food Programme and distinguished visiting professor at Auburn University, Alabama discusses Auburn fight against hunger. NC State's Jacob Rutz makes a point during the student break-out work sessions. Guilford College's Chelsey Wilson listens during the student break-out work sessions. NC area university staff members go over their task during the administrator's break-out work session. Charlotte WIlliams of Lenoir-Rhyne University leads a second day work session. NC State's Ryan O'Donnell returns to the conference after having just made a presentation to the UNC Board of Governors. North Carolina Campuses Against Hunger attendees discuss ideas during second day break-out sessions. NC State's Mike Giancola (right) addresses conference attendees during second day. NC State's Dr. Marian McCord (left) and Dr. George Wilson lead the UNC-System work session. President William Jefferson Clinton Hunger Leadership Award winner Ryan O'Donnell promotes the upcoming application deadline. UNC-Charlotte's Jasmine McNeil cares... NC State's Cindy DeLuca cares... NC State's Emily Bissett cares... NC State's Marcie Fisher-Borne cares... NC State's Ryan O'Donnell cares... NC State's Mike Giancola cares...