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Pack Essentials

Students Help Students Through Pack Meal Share Program

Two people sit at a table in the food court in Talley Student Union

Pack Essentials is reaching out to the student body for support in their annual drive for Pack Meal Share donations. The Pack Meal Share program was developed in 2018 through collaboration between Student Government, NC State Dining, and the Ombuds office as a way for students to directly support their peers. 

The program allows students with a Flex meal plan to donate any remaining guest swipes to students in need. Swipes are distributed to students that apply for aid through Pack Essentials and can be active on Wolfpack One cards in a matter of hours. 

“One thing that makes this program so special,” Mike Giancola, NC State’s assistant vice provost and student ombudsperson, said, “is that it’s direct and immediate. Students who are experiencing food insecurity can apply to Pack Essentials and have meal swipes available so they can eat in the dining halls the same day.” A survey taken in 2017 of NC State students, before the Pack Meal Share program began, indicated that almost 15% of students had experienced some form of food insecurity in the last 30 days. This semester alone, there have been over 700 applications for Pack Essentials resources. 

“There’s a benefit for students working through some challenges,” Giancola said, “If students are struggling academically, we want them to work through that because there’s potential for growth and learning. There’s no added benefit to students struggling with food insecurity or hunger. One student experiencing food insecurity is too many” 

Due to the limited number of students on campus and an influx of financial support for Pack Essentials due to COVID relief programs, the drive for Pack Meal Share did not take place for the last two years. This semester with a full return to campus, though, it was a priority to the Student Government that Pack Meal Share returned. 

Student Body President, McKenzy Heavilin, remembered donating his own guest swipes his first year and feels that the program is one of the most effective ways for students to directly support other students. “I’ve had such an amazing experience at NC State, and I want other students to have that same quality of experience while here,” he shared. 

The drive for Pack Meal Share will take place from December 1st through the 14th, ending on the last day of the semester. Student Government will be tabling in Fountain Dining Halls from December 1st through the 5th at 7:30PM, where students will be able to fill out a form with how many swipes they wish to donate. Students can also donate through an email sent out from Dining Teams to everyone with a Flex meal plan. 

Students with questions regarding the Pack Meal Share drive can contact McKenzy Heavlin at sbp@ncsu.edu

Students who are struggling with food or living insecurities can submit an application for Pack Essentials at https://dasa.ncsu.edu/support-and-advocacy/pack-essentials/

This post was originally published in Campus Enterprises News.