Here at Feed the Pack, we believe honesty and transparency are important as we strive to serve our community with dignity and respect. By showing our Pack a window into our world, hopefully we can all have confidence in the operations of our food pantry, as well as stay engaged as we fight food insecurity at NC State.
One of the most important ways to understand our pantry’s operations is to understand where your monetary donations are going. While our budget is always subject to change to support our community, this is the breakdown of our annual budget plan for the school year of 2023-24.
**Feed the Pack is run entirely on donations. To donate, click HERE.
Partnership and Food Costs
The largest piece of our pie goes to putting food into our pantry. At nearly $1,000 a month, Feed the Pack spends a lot of money stocking our shelves with food. However, our food pantry doesn’t go shopping at Food Lion every week. Buying food looks very different for us!
Every week on Mondays our leadership team heads over to the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina to pick up a food order, usually in the range of 800-1000 pounds. Throughout the rest of Monday, we will also pick up donations and food orders from some of our local partners to fill our food pantry with produce, bread, eggs, drinks, and other, shelf-stable foods.
These only outline purchases made by Feed the Pack, as we also receive many weekly donations from our wonderful partners at the AgroEcology Farm or the Pullen Memorial Baptist Church. All of our food partners are what makes Feed the Pack wonderful and more importantly, sustainable. The food provided from all these partners, including everything from produce to bread to eggs to Starbucks sandwiches to pizza to all kinds of other treats, could easily cost us 5-10 times what we pay.
Operating and Labor Costs
The next largest piece of our pie is our labor costs. These costs include wages for all 3 members of the Feed the Pack leadership team, as well as the cost of administrative fees and a housing stipend for our AmeriCorps VISTA. This section of our budget always seems to give people pause: Why does the food pantry need to pay or even have employees? A fair question, but I can begin answering this by explaining what we do.
In 2020, Feed the Pack gave out more food (over 116,000 pounds) than we have from 2012 to 2019 combined. In 2021, we topped 2020’s giving again, giving out just under 120,000 pounds of food. Since the rise of COVID-19 in 2020, our team was able to put in freezers and refrigeration in our pantry. Our team also forged partnerships with local businesses, churches, and food banks, which have allowed us to offer an enormous variety of produce, bread products, as well as being able to offer cold drinks, eggs, and meat products. Our team has worked relentlessly to serve our community with dignity and respect.
Feed the Pack is also proud to be able to pay competitive wages to predominantly student leaders that have the added perspective of being a part of the Pack. These wages not only serve to benefit our community, but help develop these students professionally to be ready to lead outside of Feed the Pack.
Without a dedicated and compensated staff, it is hard to imagine how our food pantry would look this year. Even after all of these wonderful improvements, we are humbled to know we are missing the mark. We all acknowledge how far away we are from being able to fully support those with food insecurity on campus. We also recognize how far we have come and hopefully our Pack recognizes the value our staff brings to the food pantry.
Training and Community
Training and community programming costs cover the expenses associated with team development, food safety training, and attending the annual Universities Fighting World Hunger Summit. These expenses also include the cost of community programming such as cooking demonstrations, SNAP training, guest speakers, and educational programs, all part of our efforts to address food insecurity at NC State.
This upcoming year, given the new support of our team as well as the growing need in our community, we will be expanding our community engagement. This will take the form of pop-up pantries, as well as new educational programming that will help to educate ourselves and our entire community on the issues we face. Our pop-up pantries will be all around campus, with the purpose of bringing food resources directly to our Pack as well as spread the message of our food pantry. Our educational programming this year could be anything from doing cooking demonstrations in the pantry to putting together recipe bags for our patrons to cook our delicious and nutritious meals!
This includes new equipment, equipment repairs, and cleaning supplies to ensure the pantry is operating within a clean and safe environment. This is still a significant part of our budget as we have entered our new normal at Feed the Pack, as cleaning is continually emphasized. Also, as we now have refrigeration and plan new initiatives in the pantry, maintenance is inevitable and important to ensure our pantries whole operations are functional.
Marketing items are key to raising awareness of Feed the Pack and addressing food insecurity. While we did not focus on this section this past year, during the climax of the pandemic, as we move forward, it is important to keep reaching new avenues to expand the reach of our pantry. The marketing section of our budget goes towards updating marketing materials for the coming year, give-away items, and other efforts to recruit volunteers, and donors. These funds are also used on items that center on destigmatizing the use of our food pantry.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
This is actually one of our most commonly asked questions. This is correct, Feed the Pack does not spend all donations on food items. This is the case because that would not be the most efficient ways to use our resources to support our Pack.
In 2021, Feed the Pack has serviced 27.5 families or individuals a day on average (total visits/TOTAL days in 2021, including weekends and days not in operation).
In 2021, Feed the Pack requires a bare minimum of 44 hours of volunteer service to operate. These volunteers all must be trained and scheduled before they can work.
In 2021, Feed the Pack gives over 330 pounds of food daily (pounds of food given out/TOTAL days in 2021, including weekends and days not in operation).
The amount of work and preparation that goes into operating a pantry with this kind of volume in and volume out is extensive and yet still falls short. While food donations are essential to our operations, if we hope to expand the reach and support of this resource in our community, funds are needed for all kinds of planning and work that goes beyond only food donations in our pantry.
This question is one that hits right in the heart of our mission at Feed the Pack: to support our community with dignity and respect. When a group of staff and students opened Feed the Pack in 2012, we were tucked away in a small room, about the size of a closet, in Harrelson Hall. Feed the Pack offered support in every way we could, trying to get our message out and support our Pack with non-perishables and hygiene items. Since 2012, Feed the Pack has moved several times, has started producing media for our Pack, has started to offer perishable foods, has hosted many events and has gained many partners.
Throughout it all, our mission has not changed. Only our means have. The mission of Feed the Pack has always been and will continue to be serving our community with dignity and respect. To us, this means constantly striving to be a food resource that is as reliable, nutritious, and diverse as anyone else would expect to have. This is why today we have produce, meat, dairy, bread, and hygiene products, as well as non-perishables available in the pantry, and hope to offer much more as we grow into the future.
We are beyond grateful to see the infection rates of COVID-19 continue to decrease due to the amount of vaccinated individuals in the country. However, it is a misconception that because infection rates have diminished the same economic strain on individuals due to the pandemic has also diminished at a similar rate.
Per Pew Research Center, a full job market recovery (indicating unemployment below 4%) is not months, but years away. Additionally, research from February 2020 – February 2021 shows that low-wage jobs experienced the most significant drop in unemployment at 11.7%. Also, middle-wage jobs have also dropped 5.4%. These numbers mean the vast majority of our Pack are still feeling the effects of the pandemic, often times as severely as at any point of the pandemic.
This can be seen at our food pantry, as we are on pace to give out more food in 2021 than we did in 2020 (on pace for 119,652 lbs in 2021 as compared to 116,080 lbs in 2020). This is why your generous contributions to the pantry are as important as ever to support our Pack.