During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Pack Essentials program has supported thousands of students with financial support as well as meal and housing scholarships.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, many NC State students were already struggling to pay for rent and groceries. In fact, a 2017 study revealed that 14.5 percent of students were experiencing food insecurity and another 10 percent were experiencing housing insecurity. During COVID-19, those numbers have risen to 23 percent and 15 percent, respectively.
Thanks to the Pack Essentials program and the generous donors who have supported it, the university has been able to alleviate some of the financial and emotional stress for students. From March 2020 through May 2021, Pack Essentials awarded 2,918 grants totaling $1,277,844 to help students afford their most basic needs while continuing their education online. Also during the 2020-2021 academic year, Pack Essentials provided 18 meal scholarships totaling $23,931 and 1,055 meal share meals for students to eat in the university’s dining halls. Additionally, the Feed the Pack Food Pantry distributed 131,800 pounds of food.
“Prior to the pandemic, too many of our students were experiencing food, housing and/or financial insecurity, which has an impact on their ability to fully participate in the NC State community and realize their potential,” said Mike Giancola, assistant vice provost and student ombudsperson. “COVID-19 has only made this situation worse, with increasing numbers of students experiencing food and/or housing insecurity. Pack Essentials support helps us put action behind our words when we tell students they are part of the Wolfpack family. We are so grateful to the many alumni and friends who have provided essential support over the past year. We have more work to do, and I know the Wolfpack community will be there to continue to support our students.”
Working with DASA Development, the program raised approximately $984,000 in support of the Student Emergency Fund and Endowment, meal and housing scholarships, and Feed the Pack during the 2020-2021 academic year. A new housing scholarship program was created as well, providing grants to assist students experiencing housing insecurity. The first scholarship was awarded in May 2021 to a Ph.D. student who was working to complete her dissertation while dealing with the effects of COVID-19.
“Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, nearly 3,000 alumni, parents, faculty and staff, and friends of the university generously supported Pack Essentials initiatives,” said Nicki Peterson, executive director of DASA Development. “The NC State community came together and proved that we are stronger as a Pack and made a critical difference for our students during this unprecedented time of financial hardship. We are humbled by this extraordinary show of support.”
Students who responded to the Pack Essentials survey in the past year expressed their gratitude for the program and its support as well:
- “I feel they offer valuable aid to those who are struggling financially and thus academically. It is the human face of the university…”
- “The person who called me regarding my situation really took the time to hear my unique situation…I really appreciate the care and compassion”
- “Pack Essentials is a great resource that helps so many students be able to thrive, strive and grow.”
- “I was able to relocate out of a dangerous housing situation…because of financial assistance from the Ombuds services…I’m incredibly grateful — I feel safe in my home again.”
Learn more about Pack Essentials and how to submit an application here.