Community and Civic Engagement, CCE, held their first “Justice through Service Luncheon” on Jan. 30. As a part of a new monthly series began by student Taylor Strickland, this luncheon focused on Hunger and Homelessness at UNCP.
The CARE Resource Center is run by CCE and has a food pantry, professional clothing closet, and hygiene products for UNCP students, faculty and staff as well as community members. It had 2,500 visits during the 2017-2018 school year. Half were students, 49 percent community members, and one percent faculty and staff. Over 30 percent of patrons reported the need is “often” or “very often”.
While it is appreciated when food donations are given to the CARE Center, it is encouraged to donate a few dollars instead. CCE has connections that allow them to purchase food at a high discount. For example, one dollar can create nine meals but one can of corn would cost the average person nearly the same price.
Newly, The CARE Center was granted a box cooler to provide refrigerated items. New regulations need to be understood and met meaning more work for the CCE team, but they are very excited to provide even more for those in need.
In 2013, after receiving IRB approval, CCE conducted a survey that found a significant need for housing for homeless students. During the fall and spring semesters, 83 percent of students surveyed reported always having secure and stable housing. The remaining 17 percent reported usually, sometimes, or not having stable housing.
During the summer months, the 83 percent of students that always have secure and stable housing dropped down to 76 percent.
For asset analysis, CCE looked at the resources around campus, identified the gaps and challenges, too many food pantries but no hot means, no transportation, and not enough homeless shelters, and looked at partnership benefits.
CCE partnered with Burnt Swamp Baptist Association to place a temporary homeless shelter, located at the Community Ministry Center in Pembroke, to offer a six-week maximum stay exclusive for students and meeting with a mentor to locate secure housing. Fifteen students used it in the 2016-2017 academic school year.
They are using assessing tools to analyse what policies we have on campus make it harder for homeless students as well. CCE hopes to change the way UNCP handles certain things in order to help those without secure housing.
CCE is also working the Sodexo to get donated food. In order for this to work the food may never touch a line, it can only be unused in the kitchen. There is some training that needs to happen, but it is a potentially gaining opportunity.