Dr. Kim Buch, a Professor of Psychology at UNCC, helped found the Jamil Niner Student Pantry in 2012. Nationwide, approximately 20 to 60% of college students are food insecure. UNCC’s food pantry serves less than 2% of the student population and had 3,000 clients last academic year (2017-2018). Dr. Buch discusses the history and evolution of the pantry, the students served, the types of food provided, and other services and programs offered. She also discusses community partners and donors who support the pantry.
|0:00:07||Introductions, 2012 Hunger Summit, beginnings of the student pantry|
|0:04:52||Naming donor of Jamil Niner, expansion of the garden and professional clothing closet|
|0:06:33||Service learning, impact of serving on students|
|0:08:28||2012 Hunger Summit, how Dr. Kim became aware of hunger on college campuses, general population hunger versus college student population hunger|
|0:11:08||Number of students served, demographic info collected, demographics of students served|
|0:14:18||Unique versus regular visitors, amount of food donated, criteria students must meet, intake form|
|0:18:28||Resistance from Chartwells and changing criteria, process when students come to the pantry|
|0:23:50||Clients with families, high demand items, types of food available, partnerships|
|0:28:18||Fresh produce from partnerships, university support, non-food donation support from partners|
|0:32:57||Swipe Out Hunger program,|
|0:35:11||Resistance in addition to Chartwells, limited space, percieved stigma of being food insecure|
|0:39:15||Other universities, growth of food distribution network in Charlotte, food reclamation|
|0:42:49||Development of UNCC Community Garden and its relationship with the Jamil Niner Student Pantry|
|0:46:32||Importance of students serving others, guesstimate of number of students who volunteer weekly, concluding remarks|
>> Rachel McManaman: [SOUND] Today is Thursday April 4th 2019 at 4 PM. My name is Rachel McManaman and I am at the Jamil Niner Student Pantry on UNC Charlotte’s campus. Dr Kim, thank you. Thank you. This interview is part of the Queen’s Garden an oral history project, a project collecting oral histories of local Charlotteans involved in food distribution, urban agriculture, and community gardens in the Charlotte area.
The Jamil Niner Student Pantry provides assistance to UNC Charlotte undergraduate and graduate students that struggle with food insecurity. The pantry offers a variety of nutritious meals and frequently gives demonstrations on what meals can be made with the food in the pantry. In addition to providing food, the pantry offers a variety of programs such as a professional clothing closet, a community garden, swipe out hunger, and a new resource center that links students with campus and community resources.
Now Dr. Kim.
>> Dr Kim Buch: Mm-hm.
>> Rachel McManaman: Dr. Kim. [LAUGH] Sophia called you that.
>> Dr Kim Buch: Yep, that’s what they all call me.
>> Rachel McManaman: [LAUGH] So could you please introduce yourself? And tell me a little bit about how you got involved with the Student Pantry.
>> Dr Kim Buch: Yes. So I’m Kim Buch in the psychology department.
And I got involved with this when I attended the North Carolina Hunger Summit in 2012. And at that time, on-campus food pantries were just taking off. They were already, I think, around ten, just in North Carolina alone. And other campuses were really looking at it seriously. And so we, a team of faculty, staff, and students, represented UNC Charlotte at the Hunger Summit.
It was in Elon, and we came home and made recommendations, came back to campus and made recommendations that we thought that this is something that UNC Charlotte should consider. And of course we have a severe space invitation on our campus, and so why all the university administration was very supportive of our proposal, the lack of suitable space pretty much resulted in our, the lack of success of our first initiative.
So that was in 2012, fall of 2012 we tried in earnest. I think we made the proposal in 2013, and nothing happened. And finally I started working with Sean, I’m in academic affairs, Sean Langley of course is in students affairs. And together, and I don’t really even know how it happened, but Sean was looking for space in Cone Center.
And we we did finally get space and Cone Center, and it turned out to be a janitor’s closet. And they said we had to keep the buckets there. We had already received a grant from Food Lion, that was one of our initial partners, they’re no longer involved. But we’d already received a grant from them to give us our first full stock for the pantry that was to have opened in Cone.
Well, we were getting really frustrated. And finally my chair at the time, she’s no longer the chair, but my chair at the time offered very limited faculty office space. Right in the academic building of Colvard, which is where psychology is housed. So we started in a room that was about 8 by 12.
No windows or anything, it was just surrounded by classroom space. And so we actually operated, The Pantry in my building for the first year. Throughout that year, we were actively lobbying, and presenting, and working hard to get a more suitable space. While over that first summer, that was in the fall of 2014, by the time we finally opened.
And over that first summer the university acquired these two, these are private residences, the university has owned a lot of stuff over there, they own all of this, except for the adult daycare, and these two properties while the university acquired them. And we had been petitioning for space, we got lucky and this building was assigned to us on a temporary basis.
But then, we’ve been operating here ever since. But in the fall of 2015 we got our naming donor. So, that’s where we got our name the Jamil Student Pantry, and along with that, and so it’s dad Jamil has been on the board of trustees for campus for a long time and they decided that they wanted to support us.
And once you have that kind of support, if it comes to the university in the form of a, I forget the name of it. It’s like money that is dedicated to the pantry. They continue to pay for it over time.
>> Rachel McManaman: Like an endowed grant?
>> Dr Kim Buch: Something like that.
And so because of that, we feel like even that this building was only given to us on a temporary basis, and we were told not to get too comfortable, because very likely that we would not be able to keep this building. But because now we have the naming donor, we’re hoping that this is at least a semi-permanent place.
In 2015, no 2016, we expanded with the garden. And so that was our first expansion. And then in 2017, we hired our first garden director. And then in 2017 also, we started our professional clothing closet. And that was my students’ in the service running class that actually started the professional clothing closet as one of their service learning projects for the class.
>> Rachel McManaman: And in the questionnaire, you said your interest in service and learning was kind of what got you interested in the Student Pantry.
>> Dr Kim Buch: That’s exactly why, yeah. I had no idea that hunger and food insecurity was an issue among college students. At that time back in 2012 when I first became aware of it, and the fact that so many campuses were responding to the problem with on campus food pantries, I was really surprised.
And I was concerned obviously, because I’m invested in student success and anything that would detract from student success is obviously not a good thing. So I was very interested in serving the needs of students who do have the problem. I was mostly interested in it as a place for my students to have an opportunity to learn how to serve.
I’ve been doing service learning with my students for many years, and it’s always one of the biggest challenges, to find a suitable site. And especially working with first year students, like my psychology learning community, that’s where Sophia started, as a first semester freshman. They don’t have cars, it’s very difficult to arrange for transportation.
So the idea of having something right on campus that would provide volunteers with genuine, meaningful service was really exciting. And so I got involved that way. You know again, I’m interested in the students and the clients but Leave them more interested in my research is really more looking at the impact of service, serving on students and their specific development.
There, how that experience is part of a general education, and really important to the curriculum.
>> Rachel McManaman: Right, right, and so you said that you had become largely unaware of hunger and common illnesses.
>> Dr Kim Buch: Totally.
>> Rachel McManaman: How were your eyes open to this?
>> Dr Kim Buch: Just at that hunger summit.
>> Rachel McManaman: Were you just interested and wanted to go?
>> Dr Kim Buch: Yes, the way this conference, they have them every year if you want to look it up. It’s a really cool summit, and it’s co sponsored by Campus Compact. And and so it’s just a whole lot of people that come from all over to talk and learn.
But the university since teams and so the charge of each team after they leave this summit is to go back and make recommendations to their campus. So we I think I wrote up the the recommendations report for our little team. I think there was only two or three, three or four of us who were there.
One of my students went and couple of other faculty members but I wrote up the recommendation and in doing that, the I think, I don’t remember. I could look it up was one of our very top priorities in terms of recommendations. It just seemed like low hanging fruit and learning that so many other UNC system schools already had them, we were almost like feeling in 2012.
Late to the table with that but truly I had no idea. I just assumed that my students, our students were basically middle class students. I had no idea that not only is it a problem, but it is a bigger problem than it is in the general population. And since it, yeah, hunger and food and security is higher among college students nationwide than it is in the general population.
Yeah, the general population is estimated by the FDA as about 15%. And it’s harder to measure on college campuses for a lot of reasons. And, of course, college campuses are not homogeneous. Community colleges are different than four year colleges, but in general, it’s believed that it’s from 20 to 60% depending on the location and the type of students that are served.
So and then the one study that we’ve done at UNC Charlotte, which is not a good study very small sample size estimates are rate of hundreds of insecurity on our campuses right in that range, around 25%.
>> Rachel McManaman: Wow, that’s one in four students.
>> Dr Kim Buch: Exactly.
>> Rachel McManaman: That’s one in-
>> Dr Kim Buch: Yeah, it’s pretty crazy.
>> Rachel McManaman: For 30,000 students, that’s a high amount.
>> Dr Kim Buch: It is.
>> Rachel McManaman: So how many students does the pantry serve per week or per month?
>> Dr Kim Buch: Okay, our data 100%, they’re not as good as we will like them to be. I did write an article using our first year data, and it is available in the public domain.
If you shoot me an email, I’ll send you a copy.
>> Rachel McManaman: I will.
>> Dr Kim Buch: It was published in the campus compass state journal. And it reported our first year of data and that’s when I kind of controlled the data since and I had an IRB approval and it was basically to do research.
But since then, Student Affairs has taken it over and we have these little iPads and our technology fails us a lot, we’re not on the university WiFi and so, but Julia does keep that we use Google Forms on the iPads. And she wrote up a report for the unit.
We have to report to the people who give us money. And the report for the last academic year was 3,000 students served in the academic year. But last summer, we were also open on a very limited basis. For the first time, we were open during the summer one day a week.
And I don’t know if that data included. I don’t think that included our summer, so that was our last full academic year. Julia can give you more she runs monthly reports. The problem with our data and we do break it out. We asked there’s the intake form asked if they’re domestic student or an international student, if they’re graduate, undergraduate and a few other things.
And we learn from that, and from the beginning, we have served a disproportionately high number of international students, and more of clients are graduate students and undergraduate students. Which also surprised me at first, too, but when you think about it, it makes sense. That there is a stereotype about a poor graduate students, and that is true but especially when you look at the international graduate students, they’re not allowed to work.
And so that means that, like most graduate students at least have a part time job or or an assistantship or something to supplement, to take the edge off of. So we do know that. But another problem with our data is sometimes we run reports just because somebody asks for it.
And I’m not sure that those 3,000 represents unique students. Or that includes a regular shoppers, we have regulars. We have, in fact, that’s something that I’m going to try to do this summer is get a better handle on who are we serving, and if we can run those reports.
So when I say 3,000 that’s, we can ask Julia on our way out. I think those are not unique students.
>> Rachel McManaman: And by unique you mean?
>> Dr Kim Buch: Yeah, not the second and third time. So every time a client comes in, even if they’ve been here before, they have to fill out the intake form and sign the food and security pledge and all that.
>> Rachel McManaman: A unique would be a one-time business.
>> Dr Kim Buch: Yeah, and we do get them. And we get a lot of new students. I work here every Tuesday with my service earning class, and I don’t think it was this Tuesday, but last Tuesday, we had like at least 12 new clients.
And the reason that we know, we don’t look at their data, obviously, that’s confidential, but we ask just because if it’s regular clients sometimes we recognize them, but even if we don’t, we ask. Have you been here before? And then if they haven’t, then we have to show them, and orient them.
But most days, most clients are returning.
>> Rachel McManaman: So, I saw the scale.
>> Dr Kim Buch: Yeah.
>> Rachel McManaman: It’s huge.
>> Dr Kim Buch: I know. I know it is.
>> Rachel McManaman: How much food does the pantry give out per month? And is it weight on that scale? Or is that just for
>> Dr Kim Buch: We’re going to have to ask Julia if she has a report on that.
Right now, we are not weighing food going out. And the reason for that is we had a much smaller scale about this big. And for about a year and half, we wait clients, we waited coming in and we waited going out. And our goal was to trying to track waste.
And we just thought, well, why not? More data is better than lost data, and then in the middle of the semester, last semester, our scale broke. And so we just stopped weighing food going out and what we would do for food coming in, we would just write down The number of items and stuff.
So we just got this scale over winter break. And so we have started. And so we decided, Shawn and I mostly, we just decided we don’t really need to know how much food is taken, we need to know how much food we’re getting. And the assumption is, almost all of that is being taken.
We do have some waste, and we probably need to have another, revisit the whole idea of doing a better job of monitoring our waste. But right now, we are not. So Julia does, could give you a monthly report or a cumulative report on how much we receive. And we’re pretty good about doing that, because we want to know that all of our donors are recognized and that sort of thing, thank you notes.
>> Rachel McManaman: Right, right. So you mention the intake form the students must fill in.
>> Dr Kim Buch: Yes.
>> Rachel McManaman: When they get here.
>> Dr Kim Buch: Yes.
>> Rachel McManaman: Is there any criteria in which students must meet in order to receive food.
>> Dr Kim Buch: No, not now. They do sign a food and security pledge, so the intake form does mostly ask for demographics that we’ve already talked about.
And then it also asked them do they want clothing assistance. And if they do, then Ashley, our other UPAP, she’s also one of my students. She reaches out to them and then they sign up for one of our monthly attired for hire events. So there’s different questions. Like after Hurricane Florence, we added a question in, per request of the state I believe, to see if, you know, the hurricane had impacted their food and security.
And, at the very end, there is a standard wording that we got, we benchmarked other food pantries when we opened and there’s kind of a standard, you know, by taking this food I pledge Food and secure and so it’s like. It’s just, it’s good practice to do that.
And then they just collect the radio button. But you asked what else was on there?
>> Rachel McManaman: Yep, just any criteria.
>> Dr Kim Buch: Okay. And so when we opened We had our biggest resistance to opening the food pantry on campus was [INAUDIBLE] because they provide food for students. And so they’re like, hm.
And so in order to get their buy in and they also donate and support us In order to get that. For the first three or four years we would not, students had to be living off-campus. Since the new dean of students has arrived, Dr. Bailey he has said no that’s not appropriate, and so we now have No criteria except UNC Charlotte student.
>> Rachel McManaman: That’s awesome.
>> Dr Kim Buch: Yeah, but they all do sign the food and security pledge.
>> Rachel McManaman: The food and security pledge. So, we already hit, I’m looking at my questions here, approximately how much of the student population is food insecure, and we said about 25.
>> Dr Kim Buch: 25%, based on a very limited survey.
But Doctor Petersen, she is in anthropology. Her students I think are, they’re doing a survey, another survey this year to, you know, to try to get a better handle on that. And just to update that number, so we should be able to, you know, have a little bit better feel for that once your study is complete,
>> Rachel McManaman: Right, right. So walk me through. If I’m a student who needs food from the food pantry, what do I do when I get here? What’s the process other than the forms? Walk me through that step by step.
>> Dr Kim Buch: Okay, did anybody come while you were sitting out there?
>> Rachel McManaman: A few, I saw a few people.
>> Dr Kim Buch: Okay, so basically what you saw, Sophia is a real experienced greeter. So we have volunteers and/or interns who greet clients as soon as they come in the door. You see it’s right there and the first thing that, if we don’t recognize them, and the regulars will start signing in, but the volunteers are asked to ask the visitor if he or she has shopped here before.
And if they have, then they just fill out the form, take their bag, and then they start shopping. If they have not, then the volunteer is supposed to get up and show them the shopping areas and review our general rules. We do have rules. Most of them are posted, like the number of items.
You know sometimes we have limits on items that are really high demand, items. Other times we have items that two equals one or four equals one, but in general, our rules are that students take 12 items a visit. But that could end up being more items, because sometimes four items equals one item, and sometimes we have perishable items that we really want to go out fast.
So we don’t count some of those items as toward their 12 total. A lot of times, we have that big basket by the freezer. Those all come from chart wells and those are near expiration but still good and those don’t count or anything that is expired. We work with the dietitians and chart wells.
And you know most of those are best by dates. They’re not bad date, you know it after that day they’re not going to be dangerous. And food and security pledge also is a, harmless. So the university is not responsible for, so is everything. But not that we’ve had anybody complain about, but anyway, so you can leave here with 20 or 30 items You know, on any given visit but it’s just the way, it’s just a way that’s many items are free.
Many count you know in multiples. And then there are some limits and those are posted. So a new shopper would need to kind of get acclimated to that. And then I don’t do it when I’m working but you’re supposed to halt, the clients are supposed to halt, and you’ll see the ones that are regular they automatically hold the bag and then the volunteer is supposed to look in and check on, and every now and then there’s somebody who’d like to you know 20.
Of these, and that, you know, we, a lot of times we run out of those we got a huge shipment because power crunch donated as cases, but granola bars and things like that or they go fast. And so sometimes they’ll say, you know, they didn’t read the sign.
You know, can you say but for the most part, we’re very lenient. I work on Tuesdays. I have three regulars, moms, that come in and I know them all now. And if I see something in the freezer like we get food, our campus kitchen’s program. Sometimes you know have a giant pork tenderloin frozen or a big jumbo bag of meatballs I’ll give those.
Instead of breaking them down and so and especially our clients that we know have families they can take all they want.
>> Rachel McManaman: Do you have several clients with families?
>> Dr Kim Buch: We used to ask that on our intake form. We’ve experimented with a bunch of different intake forms. And we had so few that that question isn’t on there anymore.
But usually, you get to know people And they’ll say what they’re looking for and stuff. So when we were collecting that as one of our items on our intake form, it was very low percentage, very low. Which also is disrepresentative of the campus population. However, my hunch is and it’s an empirical question we should be trying to explore a little bit.
They are probably more dialed into the community resources and so our undergraduate students wouldn’t know to even check that out, probably.
>> Rachel McManaman: Right, and what are some of these high demand items that you mentioned?
>> Dr Kim Buch: We run out of cereal really fast. We run out of granola bars really fast.
We run out of canned fruits, whereas, we don’t run out of canned vegetables. What else seems to go really fast? Anything snack, we go through lots of international foods. Anything that is from an international grocery gets snatched up really quickly. We try because knowing our clientele, we always have tons of rice.
But any of the specialty rices get taken really fast. I would say we don’t go through peanut butter like your regular food pantries that serve families, they go through a lot of peanut butter because of the international. Our peanut butter sits and sits. Canned meats, we serve a lot of vegetarians here.
There are international students. So, anything that really caters to them, they have certain soups that are known to be vegan and vegetarian and they have certain brands that they look for. But in general, the big boxes of cereal, those don’t last anytime at all.
>> Rachel McManaman: And what types of food does the pantry provide, other than what you just mentioned?
>> Dr Kim Buch: Yeah, pretty much all non-perishable items that you see when you’re out there, we’re low right now, real low. But because our biggest donor is Loaves and Fishes, so food banks provide to food pantries. I learned that since I’ve gotten involved, and so, we are a customer of the food bank, and they give us just standard food bank things, canned, perishable.
Excuse me, non-perishable, but we also have other partnerships where we get perishable items. And so, we get bread like what they call day old bread from Publix. A volunteer drops shipments of breads and pastries from Publix on Mondays. We have a partnership now with the Bulb, which is a cool partnership that we get near expiration, mostly fruits and veggies, but also some cheeses and specialty items from Trader Joe’s.
That’s incredibly popular. When our garden starts producing, which we have had a little bit over the winter but not a lot. When our garden starts producing, we have our own produce. Who else do we get food from? Bread, I mean, we get canned goods regularly now from Harris Teeter.
Harris Teeter just presented us with a $10,000 check last Friday. The media was all here.
>> Rachel McManaman: Wow, congratulations, that’s a huge amount of money.
>> Dr Kim Buch: And they have been partnering with us, but that was the first time that they. So, we’ll get a lot of their store brand items and just standard non-perishable stuff, but in addition to that now finally we have.
For the first several years we had nothing but non-perishables and now we’ve been able to branch out a bit.
>> Rachel McManaman: How recent is that?
>> Dr Kim Buch: The Bulb just started this semester. The garden started, as I said, back in, probably didn’t get anything really to give away until 2017, even though we started planning sooner.
Publix, I think we’ve had that about two years. So, it just depends on almost somebody you’ll know, somebody like one of the students in Nicole’s class, service learning class, like mine, she had a contact at the The Bulb. And so, she turned them on to us. And so things like that.
So, at any given time one partnership may be fading away, Food Lion is no longer working with us. And then another one comes on board, but our kind of our core source of food is Loaves and Fishes and we buy from them at greatly reduced rates. And then most of our stuff comes from student organizations and university offices that use us a designated charity.
>> Rachel McManaman: Right, that’s actually one of my questions.
>> Dr Kim Buch: Yeah.
>> Rachel McManaman: [INAUDIBLE] Actually,
>> Dr Kim Buch: Sure.
>> Rachel McManaman: But, I was wondering about the university support and do they support through monetary donations or in kind donations? I know, I was in a sorority here on campus as an undergrad and we were encouraged to volunteer and or donate here.
>> Dr Kim Buch: Yeah, good.
>> Rachel McManaman: We know it’s here. But what can you speak to that?
>> Dr Kim Buch: Yeah, I would say, at least as much as the our Loaves and Fishes and probably more of the food and other things that we give away is, especially clothing closet stuff, is from the campus community.
So, it is the Greek organizations and the other 600 plus student orgs that we have on campus. As well as Psychology, the whole department can adopt the food pantry so that usually over the holidays, business units on campus, or departments on campus engage their employees in something that is service oriented.
And so the pantry benefits a great deal from that. So, most of what we give away is donated through the campus community, not through our partners, but through the campus community. And then individuals, like a woman that works in the College of Business on Tuesday was here, and she just brought a big bag full of frozen veggies and she wanted to stock our freezer.
She said that she was volunteering here one day and our freezer was empty, and it is sometimes. And the students were opening it up and she said, I made a vow, I do not want that to ever happen again. And so she just, as an individual, she comes and donates.
Tons of people donate their gently used professional clothing because. So, the chancellor’s wife was one of our early champions of that. And she teamed up with Judy Rose, the athletic director. We got all kinds of very high-end clothing that first year. And then we got a parent’s grant.
So, we do buy some new clothing with that, and it’s a evolving thing.
>> Rachel McManaman: That’s great.
>> Dr Kim Buch: But most of it does come from sororities like yours, and that’s where we get our volunteers too.
>> Rachel McManaman: Right.
>> Dr Kim Buch: And it works.
>> Rachel McManaman: And these other partners, you mentioned to me Chartwells, The Bulb And then TIAA?
>> Dr Kim Buch: Yes, yeah, TIAA gives us money.
>> Rachel McManaman: So that was my question.
>> Dr Kim Buch: And they bring groups of employees here to work on service projects.
>> Rachel McManaman: So other partners who do not donate might volunteer?
>> Dr Kim Buch: Absolutely, absolutely. Yeah, we have lots of, not a lot of external partners who bring groups because that’s just hard to manage, but TIAA is one of them.
And TIAA is in the process, or already did just now, donate a significant donation to our garden. And they may end up being a naming donor for our garden. We’ve been working with them for a while. I know we’ve gotten 10,000 plus from them. And then Chartwells donates in kind and nearly expired stuff.
The Swipes, that’s coming right straight from Chartwells. Right, can you explain the Swipes program to me? Yeah, and you can Google it, too, you might be interested. It’s a national organization called Swipe Out Hunger, started by students. And now it’s a big national non-profit, and it’s basically students that have unlimited Meal Swipes.
Their meal plan pays for them to eat as many meals as they want. Well, of course, you know, they don’t nearly eat three meals a day which they could. And so Chartwells and other providers across the nation that do the same thing as Chartwells, there’s a bunch of them, allows students with unlimited meal plans to donate a certain number, it’s usually very small, ours is two a semester.
Yeah, and then those donated meals are linked up with students in need and it’s literally transferred from one card to another. And it’s a national program, which they do amazing things, and it’s a good website, too. They’ve got tons of good information on hunger and food insecurity among college students.
And so it’s a good source you might wanna check out.
>> Rachel McManaman: Wow, and so students who are purchasing meals at the cafeteria, rather than swiping their card they can just say-
>> Dr Kim Buch: Well, we have to set up a card reader so volunteers go and set up tables outside of Crown and Sovy.
And we have a sign out and we have student volunteers saying come on over, doesn’t cost you anything, donate meals. And everybody says can I donate if I have unlimited, and everybody wants to do it because it costs them nothing, so it’s a win-win. But the business model of Chartwells, if everyone on unlimited meals, they tell me, ate three meals a day they’d go broke.
I don’t know if that’s true, so they have to be very careful in managing that, and I get it. Because your parents when they bought you a meal plan, they wanna know that we’re good stewards of that. Because you wanna know that students who are getting those swipes really do need them.
>> Rachel McManaman: And in addition to Chartwells, could you speak on some of the resistance, if you’ve received any?
>> Dr Kim Buch: It was all about space, I think actually, space was our main barrier in just getting started. I think that higher administration also, when we first were looking for space, they were building Sovy, and that is an obscenely fancy high-end, extravagant silly really, place for college students to go eat.
So I think it was that juxtaposition of that in your face, high end. They’re promoting that and they’re building that and they’re investing in that, the university that is, the decision makers. And then to have publicity around the fact that, and by the way, we have students who need to shop, who don’t have enough to eat.
I think there was some of that initially and so we fought a little bit of a push back, I think. Because I think mostly it was people, like university administrators are like me, they thought well college students are privileged you know, they don’t need food stamps, they don’t need help with eating.
And so after we got past that initial, I think, and then seeing that, there’s one at UNC Chapel Hill. There’s a food pantry that just opened up at NC State. You know, as long as it’s not just our students that have this dirty little secret. So I think there was that nationally, as well as locally, a little bit of that, and I think we’re way past that now.
It’s just known that this is a problem that is part of part of being a college student. In fact, there’s articles written, I when I read that last paper, one of the articles, the title was College is Making our Students Poor. You know, and it’s true, so I mean, it’s just a reality and I think we’ve grown into handling it well.
Our administrators aren’t embarrassed by that now, but I think it was an issue at the beginning. And I know when I first started getting involved in it, when we first opened, I was very fearful that students would also feel stigmatized. And not want to show up with their fellow students and faculty and staff seeing that they did have this need.
>> Rachel McManaman: Do you have any sense of that?
>> Dr Kim Buch: No, not now, again I think that’s part of the progress that’s been made. Now we’re serving a very very small percentage of students, so we’re serving under 2% of the student population. At least that’s what I wrote in that first article.
And if the research that I already told you about say that there’s 25% of students that at least at some will be or have been food insecure, that’s a big gap to 25. So are some of the students not coming because of perceived stigma, that I don’t know.
But in terms of my sense is that I get my students here, I was working on Tuesday, one of my students from last year showed up. And she found out it from volunteering here with me last year, and I couldn’t remember her name but I remembered. What’s your name, and she, it was like yeah.
And all my students were there and some of our volunteers shop before they leave, they sign in and shop, so. My sense is no, but what about all the ones that aren’t coming.
>> Rachel McManaman: That’s true, that’s one thing I noticed when I’m walking, how welcoming everyone is, and the chalkboard.
>> Dr Kim Buch: Isn’t that cute?
>> Rachel McManaman: It’s really cute.
>> Dr Kim Buch: Yeah, Julia did that.
>> Rachel McManaman: I really like it.
>> Dr Kim Buch: I like that too.
>> Rachel McManaman: Does the pantry work with any other neighboring university student pantries?
>> Dr Kim Buch: No but we have benchmarked others and have been benchmarked.
>> Rachel McManaman: Okay, what does that mean?
>> Dr Kim Buch: It means figure out what other people are doing.When we were first looking to open, we benchmarked with Campus Compact and some of the UNC system schools that were members of Campus Compact. And in fact, Campus Compact hosted some webinars for folks who were trying to start food pantries in the UNC system.
Most all of the schools in the UNC system now have an on campus food pantry. And so we benchmarked with them to figure out how do you do it, what are your rules? In some places, like we drove, actually Sean and I took some students up in the van.
Last year to NC State to see what theirs was like because they serve staff also. And I think that’s something that we need to move towards at some point. Because we have maintenance staff and adjunct faculty who live below the poverty line. And so we went up to benchmark them.
And then we benchmark VCU, Virginia Commonwealth just because,they gave us all of their,like the food security package and all of their training materials and everything. So and since then, other pantries have benchmarked with us, asked us for our information or literature comparing notes and that sort of thing.
>> Rachel McManaman: Right.
>> Dr Kim Buch: But we don’t specifically partner with anyone. Yeah, we just had Johnson C. Wales, is it Johnson C. Wales? No.
>> Rachel McManaman: Johnson & Wales.
>> Dr Kim Buch: Johnson & Wales. Sent two students out last semester too, because they are starting a pantry to benchmark with us.
>> Rachel McManaman: Well I interviewed a couple ladies last week with Food Connection.
>> Dr Kim Buch: Yeah.
>> Rachel McManaman: And they were telling me that they partnered with Jocelyn and Wills and rescued surplus food and delivered it to people who need it. And it seems Like the food distribution network in Charlotte is very supported and very interconnected.
>> Dr Kim Buch: Since 2012, 2014 when this is starting, I mean, it’s more than doubled.
I’m not kidding.
>> Rachel McManaman: Wow.
>> Dr Kim Buch: The food reclamation initiatives have more than doubled, I’m certain of it. USC Charlotte started food reclamation 20 years ago, we were early.
>> Rachel McManaman: What’s food reclamation?
>> Dr Kim Buch: It’s picking up food from our cafeterias, and now is what we do here in our freezers.
This Campus Kitchens is taking food from the [INAUDIBLE] and bringing it over here and packing up and putting it in ready to go meals. But for 20 years before that we had student volunteers with our van as parked in the back that would pick up the food and take it uptown.
We took it up too. We took food to Urban Ministry Center for two decades. And now that we have campus kitchens. Now we still, there’s an excess, so we still send food there. But so even though there are programs like that, and have been for a long time, the number of them, and things like the and all this stuff, it’s just It’s awesome.
And community garden system that’s taken off.
>> Rachel McManaman: Yeah so I actually have a colleague who interviewed a past president of the community.
>> Dr Kim Buch: Good.
>> Rachel McManaman: She actually asked me if I could ask you the relationship between the family tree in the community garden. I know you mentioned it a little bit.
>> Dr Kim Buch: Okay, good.
>> Rachel McManaman: Could elaborate.
>> Dr Kim Buch: Okay, well it’s changed. I don’t know if she, was that when it was the Levine Scholars’ Garden?
>> Rachel McManaman: I couldn’t tell you.
>> Dr Kim Buch: It’s the one over behind architecture?
>> Rachel McManaman: I couldn’t tell you.
>> Dr Kim Buch: Okay well-
>> Rachel McManaman: It might be.
>> Dr Kim Buch: So that’s had a lot of transition.
It was started by a Levine Scholar. The Levine Scholars actually get a fund to start a charity And he this guy I forget his name because it was a long time ago but he started this garden that’s behind architecture walked by I just walked by today. I walked through it to invest to get the broccoli, but it started as a community garden.
And it had, and then it changed hands and it got turned over to the garden plot, and they started using that not for a community garden but to train students in gardening.
>> Rachel McManaman: Okay.
>> Dr Kim Buch: And it was a lot of flowers and a yoga pavillion and the hand mix is beautiful.
And then they faded it and so they reach up us and we now have most of the beds and the signage in the garden ceases for the genome and the students pantry and then we have students from here who go over there and bring it back but we also have about 12 raise beds here outside and we’re totally on those.
>> Rachel McManaman: So the community garden on campus is more or less an extension of the student pantry.
>> Dr Kim Buch: Except that it started first. It started first and then it evolved away from you know, veggies and serving at the people. Towards,the garden club took it over and they had different goals and but now it’s a shared venture and our intern I actually we also have one of our interns like Sophia that is a community garden director.
They’re supposed to coordinate with the garden club, the extent of which is happening right now. I don’t know but that’s the ideal.
>> Rachel McManaman: And so you receive produce. What kind of produce do you recieve?
>> Dr Kim Buch: Over the winter she did really well with broccoli and cabbage and herbs.
And then in the warm weather, we have tomatoes and peppers and things like that that tend to be more popular.
>> Rachel McManaman: Do you tend to get a lot of that fresh produce or is it-?
>> Dr Kim Buch: No but in the summer it’s when it all comes. So many of our students are gone, we’re only open one day a week so we have enough We do have enough.
And I have a student who was undergraduate research scholar last summer and she was monitoring that. We did some ways, but overall, it’s a popular item. We have lots of vegetarians as I said, so those are very popular items. Yeah and you can walk through really any time you’re over there is between Robinson and architecture.
okay, I think I know where you talking about. It’s got the hammocks.
>> Rachel McManaman: The building around the curve?
>> Dr Kim Buch: There’s no building although there’s a pavilion and is in it and a garden shed. But it’s just a big beautiful garden space with hammocks in. You know, it’s cute.
>> Rachel McManaman: Yeah.
>> Dr Kim Buch: And then you’ll see the signage in there.
>> Rachel McManaman: Okay. Yeah, I think it was actually the president of the garden club.
>> Dr Kim Buch: Yeah. Yep.
>> Rachel McManaman: That rings a bell.
>> Dr Kim Buch: So we partner with her now, with them.
>> Rachel McManaman: That’s fantastic. So I did tell you it would be a 45 minute interview.
We’re approaching the time limit, and I consider [CROSSTALK] So thank you for your time.
>> Dr Kim Buch: Yeah, that’s great.
>> Rachel McManaman: Is there anything else you would like to tell me?
>> Dr Kim Buch: No I think.
>> Rachel McManaman: I should have asked you.
>> Dr Kim Buch: No. I think you covered all the basis, I hope it fit in well enough with your needs just even though my mind, you know my background isn’t about food.
I don’t have any expertise in food. I can barely cook. [LAUGH] So you know it wasn’t about that or it wasn’t even about serving even though I’m a psychologist. It wasn’t really about serving at-need people, it was more, I was coming at it from an educator wanting students to learn to serve, and I’ve done a lot of research in that area.
The impact of service on college students who serve. And it is important you know it enhances specific attitudes. It enhances their, there are studies that show it reduces stereotypes about the homeless, people in poverty, all of that stuff. So it’s just good for students to serve. And I did forget to tell you this, I have another student, undergraduate scholar whose research I’m supervising.
She’s also one of our interns with Sofia. Sofia is another scholar this summer but our study is not focusing on clients is focusing on volunteers. And I know this anecdotally but the summer we’re gonna do the research We serve more students as volunteers than we serve students as clients, and to me that’s huge.
>> Rachel McManaman: Interesting, how many student volunteer volunteers do you think you [CROSSTALK]
>> Dr Kim Buch: Well, that’s what I am saying, it’s an empirical question and we have very bad data. I have stacks of paper forms this high in my office, but now that we’ve gone on the iPads, I don’t know.
But a week now, I’m gonna average it, 4 times 5. 20 plus that are here present. And then we have service learning classes, and learning communities who are doing group projects. This is my students that are creating this resource thing. And we have other students who are working on the partnership with The Bulb.
And we have students that are doing the meal kits, and we have, you know, all kinds. Lots of students that are, graduate courses. Like you, you’re being served. We’re serving you now, so that you can you enhance your education. And we have lots of other students. Graduate students in Communications give us marketing, you know, do marketing studies on how can we enhance our marketing.
And so, engage scholarship projects, student interns, student orgs. One of our interns, I don’t know if she’s here today, Autumn, started the Campus Kitchens Project. And she has a whole club. Then they come on Mondays and they package up the food. She drives the van over from Crown and.
And they come in here, and they have their, well, it’s not here now. But they have their gloves and their sanitation wipes, and they package it up. And so whole groups of students, orgs, and classes, and learning communities. Not to mention the ones that sign up individually online to engage.
So it’s an empirical question, but I am confident in saying that we have impacted more UNC Charlotte students in learning to serve than being served. I think that’s awesome.
>> Rachel McManaman: That’s really fantastic, that is really fantastic. It really seems like the pantry serves a dual purpose, so much more than just food.
And I think that really speaks to how it functions within the student community, but also the larger community. And creating that sense of caring for one another and community, that’s fantastic.
>> Dr Kim Buch: I agree, I agree. So like I say, it wasn’t a lot about food, but It wasn’t only about food.
>> Rachel McManaman: And that’s the best part.
>> Dr Kim Buch: But you know lots more about food than I do, I’m sure, and all of that. It’s really exciting, I’m glad you’re doing it.
>> Rachel McManaman: Thanks very much. Yeah the one thing that I’ve really taken from these interviews is the community aspect about it.
It’s much less about the food than it is the benefits that come from it. And help helping others, and creating those relationships.
>> Dr Kim Buch: So it’s not just here, if that’s what you’re finding in general. Well that’s cool, that’s really cool. Cuz I think a lot of times people look at it as much more transactional.
>> Rachel McManaman: Yeah, it’s not.
>> Dr Kim Buch: You know, and it’s not.
>> Rachel McManaman: Not at all.
>> Dr Kim Buch: Very cool.
>> Rachel McManaman: Thank you so much for coming down here [CROSSTALK]
>> Dr Kim Buch: Thank you, it’s a great.
>> Rachel McManaman: It’s been so fantastic!
>> Dr Kim Buch: It has been, I love this oral history thing. It’s a new research approach.