Tackling N.C. State on the Field and Hunger off the Field

Carolina Cupboard Volunteers
In fall of 2022, the Pantry Bowl made an incredible impact for the Carolina Cupboard during rivalry week. UNC-Chapel Hill tackled N.C. State on the field and tackled hunger off the field and just barely lost to the Wolfpack in the friendly competition.

The Carolina Cupboard is an on-campus food pantry that provides students with food and supplies at no cost. Located in the bottom of Avery Residence Hall, the cupboard provides supplies to students who are food-insecure, whether or not they qualify for SNAP or other food-assistance programs.

“We’re there for students facing food insecurity and it’s a very open and welcome place for them to come,” said Carlisle Watts ’25, president of the Carolina Cupboard. “There’s no limit on how many times they come or how much food they take. We’re just there to provide any assistance we can, and we’re so happy and eager to help in any way we can.”

Carolina Cupboard president Carlisle Watts ’25

Last year, Carolina received more than 1,100 gifts and with N.C. State collectively raised almost $150,000. This year, Carolina aims to top that, ensuring no Tar Heel is hungry. With 22% of Carolina undergraduate and graduate students facing food insecurity, it’s important the cupboard is able to provide aid without barriers.

“The Pantry Bowl is our biggest source of funding, and it allows us to take these big jumps forward,” said Watts. “It’s an amazing way for us to not only get the word out, but also gain access to funding that allows us to do these transformative things for the cupboard.”

Last year’s impact

The ability to reach more Tar Heel students facing food insecurity this year was made possible because of the community’s participation in last year’s Pantry Bowl. The cupboard used the money donated to buy an industrial-sized refrigerator and freezer, which allowed the pantry to provide more fresh and nutritious food to their patrons.

Last year’s Pantry Bowl helped provide:
– A refrigerator
– A freezer
– Reusable grocery bags
– Groceries (fresh and frozen)
– Donation bins
– T-shirts
– Promotional materials for student awareness
– Program supplies

Starting as a shift volunteer her first year, progressing to treasurer her sophomore year and now president her junior year, Watts has seen the impact the Pantry Bowl makes for the Carolina Cupboard and — more importantly — the impact it makes in students’ lives.

“Something we see every day is how appreciative and unbelievably grateful everyone is for Carolina Cupboard and the services it provides and how much of a weight it is off our patrons,” Watts said. “You can just see the relief when they’re able to get their food.”

Watts emphasized that gifts of all sizes have an incredible impact on students having the best possible experience at Carolina and excelling in their studies and beyond.

‘No greater gift’

The Stones are one family that understands the importance of fighting food insecurity. They participated in the Pantry Bowl two years in a row, started an endowment through the Basic Needs Fund over the summer of 2023, and gave an additional grant to ensure immediate funds would be available this year. Mark Stone said the family will participate in this year’s Pantry Bowl, as well.

“When my wife and daughters and I found out about the Pantry Bowl, we said, ‘This is such an outstanding way of shining a spotlight on the existence of the Carolina Cupboard and really bringing awareness and attention to the needs of so many.’”

The Stone family first learned of student pantries when their eldest daughter roomed in a dorm where a student pantry was located at the University of Michigan. They knew then that they wanted to help students meet basic needs, like having access to food.They started supporting U of M’s student pantry, the Maize and Blue Cupboard, and when their youngest daughter, Katie Stone ’25, came to UNC-Chapel Hill, they sought out the Carolina Cupboard to start giving there as well. Mark Stone shared that even though the family is not from North Carolina, that heightened the notion of what it means to be a part of the Carolina community.

“Find a way to give because it’s that important, and because we are a community,” he said. “If we as a community can contribute to something that provides some level of stability, basic love, concern and recognition to take that burden off of somebody who’s really giving everything they have already, I think there’s no greater gift.”

It takes a community

It does take a community to fight hunger. The Carolina community is fortunate to have the generosity of its volunteers, donors and so many partners who work with and give to the cupboard, helping to provide nutritious food. Some of those partners include Carolina Dining Services and Starbucks, which both started delivering food goods, including fresh produce and frozen breakfast sandwiches. The cupboard also collaborates with Good Bowls, a local frozen meal company started by UNC-Chapel Hill nutrition professor Alice Ammerman. These meals are healthy with locally sourced ingredients. The fridge and freezer the cupboard was able to purchase with gifts to last year’s Pantry Bowl allow for more storage, making it easier to provide healthy foods for students.

Good Bowls frozen meals

“The Pantry Bowl gifts that funded the fridge and the freezer allowed us to open up and do even more,” Watts said. “We’re super committed to making sure that students get nutritious food that also fits any dietary restrictions they have.”

Participate in Pantry Bowl 2023, Nov. 19-26!

Let’s continue to tackle hunger, and help provide the resources our Tar Heels need. Join us in fighting hunger through this year’s Pantry Bowl, Nov. 19-26, 2023, coinciding with the Nov. 25 game between the Tar Heels and the Wolfpack. Gifts can be made at pantrybowl.com.

Related Stories


Robin Lee speaks up because she cares

Celebrating a Presidential Day

The Storytelling of Art