National Hunger Month

Volunteers at City Church hand out food to students around the area. City Church provides free food for middle and high school students every Sunday. Sunday, September 19, 2021 (Photo by Austin Lee)

Being a student, it can be easy to skip meals while running to classes. No one thinks too much about a missed breakfast as long as lunch is squeezed in somewhere.

For some people, however, a skipped meal might be an everyday struggle. Although it is not always evident, more people suffer from lack of food than what is talked about, if ever talked about.

In honor of September being National Hunger Awareness month, Latisha Hubbard — associate director of student outreach and support — pointed out that food insecurity is a national problem, and believes that more people have gone to class hungry than those who are not.

Around 2015 UTC's Student Government Association took a campus-wide survey to determine how many students were facing food insecurity issues. The outcome led to the founding of UTC’s Scrappy's Cupboard, which served their first student in 2017.

Even through the pandemic, they remained available to those students who were still in the Chattanooga area.

“Scrappy’s Cupboard is open to all staff, faculty, and students at this point," said Hubbard. "It has standard canned goods as well as laundry detergent, toilet paper and other household items. The first time you use this resource, it’s no questions asked.” 

Scrappy's Cupboard is available during the weekdays, no appointment necessary, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Here, students are able to personally choose five to seven days worth of food items offered.

Unfortunately, they do not have the physical means to support those in need on a continuous basis. Therefore, UTC’s student outreach and support center would be more than happy to help any faculty member, staff member or student find a more permanent solution. 

Recently, Scrappy’s Cupboard has received a grant which they used to acquire refrigeration units. Within the next month, Scrappy’s Cupboard will offer frozen meat, frozen vegetables and more dairy products.

They also hold a monthly fresh produce market at a reduced price in Crossroads Dining. The next one will be held on Oct. 7.

The Association of American Colleges and Universities surveyed 86,000 students across 123 two and four-year institutions and discovered that within 30 days over 30% of those students faced food insecurity. Meaning, 25,800 students did not know where their next meal was going to come from.

Due to the vast problem of food insecurity, like UTC’s Scrappy Cupboard, other groups are trying to help make a change.

Sororities like Alpha Gamma Delta are an example. Their philanthropy is "fighting hunger" which they carry out through their partnership with Meals on Wheels and Feeding America.

Blaire Cartwright, UTC’S Alpha Gamma Delta vice president, said she never realized how bad hunger in the community really is. 

"I love that I get the opportunity to give back to those in need,"  said Cartwright. "It is so rewarding to fill plates, hearts and minds."

This month, the sorority held a canned food drive and donated it to the local community kitchen in Chattanooga. They also raised money for their own foundation which will also be used to help local community kitchens.

Scrappy's Cupboard and Alpha Gamma's efforts are only a couple of support systems aiding with food insecurity. Students seeking assistance are also able to contact the university's student outreach and support center to find more solutions. 

For more information regarding food insecurity and free resources click here.

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