Community and Civic Engagement Tackles Hunger and Homelessness
Community and Civic Engagement, CCE, held their first “Justice through Service Luncheon” on Jan. 30.
As a part of a new monthly series started by UNCP student Taylor Strickland, the luncheon focused on hunger and homelessness at UNCP.
The CARE Resource Center is run by CCE. It has a food pantry, a professional clothing closet and hygiene products for UNCP students, faculty, staff and community members.
During the 2017-2018 school year, the center had 2,500 visits. 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 there are food donations being sent 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.
The CARE Center was recently granted a box cooler to provide refrigerated items. New regulations needed to be understood, which meant more work for the CCE team, but they are very excited to provide even more for those in need.
In 2013, after receiving Institutional Review Board (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 have reported always having secure and stable housing. The remaining 17 percent reported usually, sometimes or not having stable housing. During the summer, the 83 percent of students that always have secure and stable housing dropped 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 meals, 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 a meeting with a mentor to locate secure housing.
Fifteen students used it in the 2016-2017 academic school year. CCE hopes to change the way UNCP policies are handled, in order to help those without secure housing.
CCE is also working with Sodexo to get donated food. There are some plans for training, but it is a potentially gaining opportunity.