Feeding the Pack

A Sciences senior is making a difference for members of the Wolfpack community through her work with the campus food pantry.

Rose Krebs, a senior studying microbiology, is the executive director of Feed the Pack, NC State’s food pantry. Since the student-run pantry opened in 2012, it has distributed more than 193,000 pounds of food. Currently, the pantry is serving more people than ever, as needs have increased during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Learn more from Krebs about the pantry’s work and how you can help.

How did you get involved with Feed the Pack? Why does this cause matter to you?

I started as a volunteer my freshman year to give back to my community. Food insecurity matters to me because I believe that no one should go hungry or worry about where their next meal is coming from.

Food insecurity on college campuses is just now beginning to be seen and addressed as a serious issue that students face across the nation. If you haven’t read Dr. Mary Haskett’s study of food insecurity and homelessness among NC State students, I recommend you read it. Her team found that 14% of NC State students (about the same number of students as are in the class of 2024) experienced food insecurity — and that was prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Who does the pantry serve?

The Feed the Pack food pantry serves students, staff and faculty at NC State. We are currently open Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays from noon to 6 p.m. and are located in the Quad Commons Building at 2221 Dunn Ave.

What does your volunteer work with Feed the Pack involve?

As executive director, I lead the student leadership team managing the day-to-day operations of the pantry, build partnerships within our community and act as a liaison between the leadership team, our advisers and the university.

The front window of the Feed the Pack Food Pantry

How many people does Feed the Pack typically serve in a month or a year? Have you seen an increase or change in needs since the COVID-19 pandemic began?

We’ve seen an enormous increase in need since the start of the pandemic. Last year we gave out just over 40,000 pounds of food, but from January to September of this year we’ve already given out over 83,000 pounds of food and had more than 6,200 visits.

We’ve had an increase in visits from students, particularly graduate students. Previously, students made up about half of our visitors, and that proportion has risen to about 75%. In March, we started providing fresh produce and bread in the pantry, and those items have been very popular. I think we’ve been able to meet some of the need, but there’s still a tremendous need in our community.

How do you hope to improve the Feed the Pack program during your time as executive director?

At the start of each year, our leadership team meets and reviews last year’s goals and establishes new goals for the upcoming year. Some of the goals we established this year that I want to focus on are increasing feedback from our patrons and using it to improve the pantry, building partnerships with local farmers, and increasing the variety of foods we provide to meet the dietary and cultural needs of our patrons.

How can people help?

The best way for people to get involved right now is to donate monetarily or drop off nonperishable food and hygiene items at the pantry any time between noon and 6 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays. We have a list of our most-needed items that’s regularly updated on our website; right now, that list includes canned tuna, canned chicken, dried mashed potatoes, spices, cereal and garbanzo beans. If you want to make a contactless donation, we also have an Amazon wishlist that we update regularly with our most-needed items.

This post was originally published in College of Sciences News.