University officials, students, faculty and staff gathered in the backyard of a ranch house on the edge of the UNC Charlotte campus on Wednesday, Aug. 31, to dedicate the brick structure as the “Jamil Niner Student Pantry.”
The naming event was held to honor Dhiaa and Hope Jamil for their generous support for the food pantry, which benefits students who struggle with a phenomenon called “food security.” National studies have found an unexpectedly large number of college students are unable to find or afford nutritious food.
“This food pantry clearly meets a real need for our students,” said Chancellor Philip L. Dubois, who was joined by his wife, Lisa, along with the Jamil family and others. “With this boost from Hope and Dhiaa, it will continue to do so for years to come.”
A 1978 graduate of UNC Charlotte, Dhiaa Jamil is currently serving as secretary of the University’s Board of Trustees. A Duke Energy executive, he advocates on behalf of the University with local corporations in support of campus initiatives, including faculty development, scholarships, athletics and the Pride of Niner Nation Marching Band.
The family established the Hope E. Jamil EPIC Student Fellow Scholarship to provide support for students with financial need and has been a strong supporter of the food pantry since its inception.
In his remarks, Jamil said the dedication was even more meaningful to him because it came as a surprise. His wife put together a donation for the food pantry for his 60th birthday, which was this month.
He first heard about the idea of launching a food pantry on the UNC Charlotte campus at a Board of Trustees retreat two years ago.
“I perked up because the idea brought me back to a certain time in my life,” Jamil said, speaking about his time as a college student.
“I worked, struggled and relied on the giving of others,” he said. “Some people call it food security. I call it hunger. I would have loved to have a place like this when I was in school.”
Following the naming ceremony, attendees were given a tour of the Jamil Niner Student Pantry.
The pantry will provide assistance to undergraduate and graduate students. It has benefited from donations from Food Lion, which gave $8,000 worth of nonperishable items to the pantry in its first year, including boxed cereal, oatmeal, macaroni and cheese, boxed rice, tuna, mixed vegetables, applesauce, chicken noodle soup and more. The supermarket chain continues to support the food pantry.
To qualify for assistance, students must live off campus and not have a University meal plan. In addition, each client must complete an intake form and a food pantry inventory list. In establishing the pantry, UNC Charlotte joined 13 other UNC system institutions with similar initiatives.