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 break down of our annual budget plan for the school year of 2022-23.
**Feed the Pack is run entirely on donations. To donate, click HERE.
Partnership and Food Costs
This year, the largest piece of our pie has grown. At over $1,400 a week, 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 all kinds of other treats, could easily cost us 5-10 times what we pay.
The next largest piece of our pie is our personnel costs. These costs include wages for all 4 members of the Feed the Pack leadership team, as well as the cost of administrative fees and a housing stipend for our AmeriCorps VISTA. We are very fortunate as a campus group to receive an AmeriCorps VISTA who works full-time to support our pantry. Due to them being part of the AmeriCorps program, we do not directly pay their wages, only their housing.
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 2021, Feed the Pack gave out more food than ever before at nearly 120,000 pounds. In 2022, we expect to top our previous year’s poundage again, currently projecting out for nearly 135,000 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.
Pantry Supplies and Equipment
Perhaps the biggest change in our budget this year has been the allocation of several thousands of dollars more in pantry supplies and equipment. While this is partially to do with the increased demand in the pantry and thus demand for wet wipes, cleaning supplies, trash bags, etc. it is predominantly due to our new Cookware Kit crowdfunding campaign!
As a new initiative this year, Feed the Pack is attempting to add the service of having 30 or so complete cooking kits that our patrons could use on a semester by semester basis. Our intake form this past year indicated that nearly 50% of our patrons did not have proper access to cooking supplies. We hope our Cookware Kit service will start to remedy this situation as we continually strive to better serve our community with dignity and respect.
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 recent success of our video series, we will continue to expand these videos by making more cooking demos as well as putting our more information on our food pantry and how we run. A lot of non-profits or food pantries do not put the time into creating resources that let you be a fly on our proverbial walls but here at Feed the Pack, we believe it is not only important but essential that people understand what goes into the work at our food pantry. We believe this clarity promotes our message of serving our community with dignity and respect.
This year we will also continue with some of our pop-up pantries around campus, centered on bringing food directly to our community body. In addition, our cooking recipe bags and all of our educational or informational talks and events will still be happening this year, with the plan to have some added events for donors, for partners and for our wonderful volunteers!
Marketing items are key to raising awareness of Feed the Pack and addressing food insecurity. While this is the smallest portion of our budget, it is important to note we will spend nearly 50% more money on promotional items than we did last year. This is because as we move out of the pandemic, it is important that people continue to recognize Feed the Pack as an important food resource on campus. Our promotional items also help attract people to our booths when we are out tabling, which means the word of our food pantry spreads even more. And a good time is had by all. We are getting sunglasses this year!
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.