Friendly competition for a good cause

By AACC 21st Century Center Staff

North Carolina colleges face off in a competition where everyone wins.

Central Piedmont Community College (CPCC) is trying to stamp out hunger. This week – Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week – the college is hosting a conversation on eliminating food waste, a panel discussion with local non-profits and a service project with a food bank. And all week, CPCC is collecting food for those in need.

In October, Wake Technical Community College hosted food drives on two campuses to help students in need. During the “Feed-A-Friend” Food Truck Rodeos, students, faculty and staff donated food and grabbed lunch from one of several food trucks. Volunteers on the Southern Wake Campus also packed a truck full of yams that will be distributed to Wake Tech’s food pantry – The Nest – and Wake County residents.

CPCC and Wake Tech are competing with 16 other colleges and universities in North Carolina to collect the most pounds of food at a single event. The Collegiate Challenge, sponsored by Food Lion Feeds and North Carolina Campus Compact, is aimed at addressing hunger and food insecurity in throughout the state. Institutions could receive $10,000 for the most engagement and creativity on campus, and a second award of $10,000 if the campus collects the most food (adjusted for institution size). The funds will support campus-based hunger relief projects.

At Wake Tech, “41 percent of our students experience some type of food insecurity,” said Mariel Klem, Wake Tech student advocacy and support coordinator. “They’re running out of food before the end of the week and skipping meals. It’s hard to pay attention in class if you’re hungry.”

More than 1,443 pounds of food were collected at the college’s Food Truck Rodeos.

Helping hungry students isn’t new for Wake Tech or CPCC, though. Wake Tech’s first food pantry opened in 2014 and several more followed. The food pantries have provided more than 1,600 students with much-needed food. CPCC’s emergency pantries have fed more than 2,376 students, faculty, staff and their families. Another Collegiate Challenge institution – Davidson County Community College – runs the Storm Food Pantry. A student survey in 2016 revealed that more than 60 percent of DCCC students had experienced food insecurity at some point.

AACC 21st Century Center Staff

is a contributor to the 21st-Century Center.