When I first heard about A Place at the Table, I immediately thought of the people in our community who could benefit from such a place. As an employee and a student at NC State, I have had conversations with students in which they casually mention that they only have $20 to live on until their next paycheck. If the paycheck comes next week, that comes out to anywhere between $2-$5 to split between three meals a day. As a volunteer at the Feed the Pack Pantry, I see NC State community members come in to shop for themselves and their families, stocking up on the canned corn and boxed macaroni and cheese that is all too familiar to families trying to stretch meals to their limits. Faculty, staff, and students alike shop at Feed the Pack Pantry every week to fill out the meals they are able to afford on their student loans, salaries, or hourly paychecks, if they are fortunate enough to earn money at all. The pantry is located in a secluded location in the basement of Carmichael Gym in order to maintain some form of anonymity because the need to eat — and more specifically, the need to eat on a budget — can cause unnecessary embarrassment for those who visit the pantry.
A Place at the Table is supporting community, family, nutrition, and dignity all in one space. It is a place where students can earn a meal by volunteering to seat patrons for a few hours in the morning. A Place at the Table is a restaurant that families can turn to when they want to celebrate milestones, report cards, or a regular Wednesday morning without having to tell their children that they can only order from the “cheap” parts of the menu. A Place at the Table is a place where Carl, Maggie’s friend from the “Why We’re Different than a Soup Kitchen” post, can chat with one of the 88 (at the time of this post) Indiegogo campaign contributors about a shared love for the Carolina Panthers football team over a cup of coffee and a plate of food equal to that of his companion.
I am proud of the way our community has rallied around A Place at the Table and continues to show support for its mission. I look forward to its opening and to watching all of the positive outcomes the organization will have on individuals, as well as the NC State and Raleigh communities!
-Crystal Wallace, NC State Student and Employee