Inter-Faith Food Shuttle Addresses Food Insecurity Among College Students

On Friday, September 20, Inter-Faith Food Shuttle helped unload a pallet of food at the school pantry on North Carolina Central University campus.  For Food Shuttle staff, this was the launch of their 28th School Pantry, and the third on a college campus.  For the school, it is the answer to an increasingly problematic issue on college campuses across the country:  food insecurity among college students.  The #RealCollege survey, the nation’s largest annual assessment of basic needs security among college students, created by the Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice found that in a study of nearly 86,000 students that 45% of respondents were food insecure in the prior thirty days.  For Inter-Faith Food Shuttle, an organization whose motto is “Hunger is unacceptable”, this means finding ways to make food more accessible at the point of need for college students. Hence, the pantry at North Carolina Central University.

On Friday, the pallet of food for the NCCU pantry was donated by the local Food Lion Grocery Store as part of their Food Lion Feeds program to help end hunger. The store, located on Fayetteville Street, is a big supporter of North Carolina Central University and employees many of their students.  “Our store was asked to get some food over here for their students in need and we’re happy to be here,” said store manager Jason Ratz.  This year, Food Lion stores are restocking five of the Food Shuttle pantries with pallets of food under the auspices of the Food Lion Feeds program.  The Food Lion Feeds program proposes to provide one billion meals to those in need by the year 2025.  For more information, visit  Inter-Faith Food Shuttle will make future deliveries to the pantry, at a rate of approximately 500-600 pounds a month.  The amount will depend on demand and usage of the pantry.

Inter-Faith Food Shuttle began the School Pantry program in 2009 with the goal of providing healthy, sustainable food to students and populations related to students.  The organization currently operates 28 pantries in elementary, middle, and high schools and colleges in four of their seven-county service area.  The NCCU pantry is the tenth Food Shuttle pantry in Durham County.  The choice to open the pantry at North Carolina Central University was based on four criteria: 1) the school sought out Inter-Faith Food Shuttle to provide more support and stability to their current pantry; 2) there is a dedicated team to operate the pantry including pantry Manager Leah Leak, an NCCU senior studying Family Consumer Science; 3) the need to put college hunger on the map; and 4) the fact that the college campus is easily accessible to East Durham for students and potentially the community at large.

In 2018-19, Inter-Faith Food Shuttle distributed almost 85,500 pounds of food through the School Pantry program, serving 14,515 individuals.  Currently, the goal at Inter-Faith Food Shuttle is to open two School Pantries a year, dependent upon funding and support.  Plans for the next School Pantry to open are under review at this time.

On October 11 and 12, Inter-Faith Food Shuttle will serve as co-host for the Carolinas College Hunger Summit, to be held at North Carolina A & T University in Greensboro. Hunger on our college campuses is a hidden and growing challenge with the number of students who face hunger ranging from 20% to over 40%. The Summit will shine a spotlight on this critical issue with two days of inspiring conversation, solution sharing, and action planning. Visit Carolinas College Hunger Summit for more information.