UNCW Hawk’s Harvest Student Food Pantry Continues Efforts During COVID-19 Pandemic

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

UNCW’s Hawk’s Harvest Student Food Pantry is dedicated to making food available to Seahawks experiencing food insecurity. During the COVID-19 pandemic this resource is more important than ever, and the pantry’s doors have remained open to continue service.

Julianna Tresca ’21, a lead volunteer at the pantry, is interested in reducing food insecurity on both the local and national scale. Tresca, a geology and environmental science major, became part of the Rachel Carson Council after hearing about the fellowship from one of her professors, and she now writes monthly environmental articles for the RCC that focus on food insecurity.

“Many students are finding themselves food insecure for the first time given the pandemic conditions,” Tresca said, noting the pantry typically provides food to 10-15 students per week.

The initiative that became Hawk’s Harvest began in the fall of 2017 when Jaime Russell Ed.D. '16, director of the Office of Student Leadership and Engagement, surveyed UNCW students and found that a number of them experienced food insecurity, which sparked her interest in providing them with an easily accessible food pantry.

“Thanks to Hurricane Florence, the Newman Center functioned as an unofficial pantry in the fall of 2018, then we officially launched the UNCW Hawk’s Harvest Student Food Pantry in January 2019,” Russell said. The center, located near campus on College Acres Drive, is part of the UNCW Catholic Campus Ministry.

Sister Rose, campus minister at the Newman Center, has been involved with Hawk’s Harvest since it began, but she has been helping food-insecure students long before the pantry opened. On a daily basis, she manages the inventory at the Newman Center, coordinates volunteers and comforts students as they visit the pantry.

She said that the number of students served has remained steady during the pandemic, and that students who regularly use the service “appreciate our continued operation.” Sister Rose emphasized that food insecurity is not a new problem for the UNCW community, but what is new is the collaborative effort shown by numerous student organizations, UNCW departments, community supporters and professors during these difficult times to address the reality of food insecurity and to respond to students’ needs.

“Given the global crisis we are in, money is tight everywhere and the food pantry becomes all the more important,” Sister Rose said. “When you make a commitment to provide food to students who are struggling, it is important to be there for them. I wouldn’t be anywhere else right now.”

More information about Hawk’s Harvest can be found here.

-- Alex Churchill ’21