Scrappy's Cupboard was founded to address food insecurity at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC). The program has grown since its inception, offering a variety of food, clothing, personal care, and household items. The Cupboard aims to relieve these insecurities, which enables UTC community members to better focus on their wellbeing and education. Use of Scrappy’s Cupboard is anonymous and open all members of the UTC community, including students, employees, and affiliates. The Cupboard is coordinated by the Office of Student Outreach & Support and run by volunteers from the UTC community.
For many years, members of the UTC community were concerned about students struggling with food insecurity. In fall 2015, a committee was formed to examine the issue. The committee found that Chattanooga area resources were difficult to access for students, often requiring a referral from a registered social service agency or the obtainment of a limited number of food vouchers. The committee learned that due to strict eligibility requirements, many students were also not eligible for U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits (also known as Food Stamps). The committee conducted a campus needs assessment in spring 2016. Responses showed that 43% of students had experienced food insecurity and 54% had been aware of another student who was experiencing food insecurity. The committee subsequently proposed the formation of a food pantry to UTC Chancellor, Dr. Steven Angle. Chancellor Angle approved the formation of a food pantry in fall 2016. Scrappy’s Cupboard began operation in fall 2017.
In 2021, Scrappy’s Cupboard expanded services in a number of areas. Scrappy's Cupboard received the University of Tennessee Alliance of Women Philanthropists Giving Circle grant, allowing the program to purchase a commercial freezer and refrigerator for the distribution of fresh and frozen food items, in addition to the creation of the Scrappy’s Market program, which has delivered fresh produce to members of the community bi-weekly during the academic year.
Also in 2021, Scrappy’s Cupboard began offering free feminine hygiene products throughout campus in collaboration with the Center for Wellbeing, Student Outreach & Support, Survivor Advocacy Services, and University Health Services. Feminine hygiene products are distributed via dispensers in high-traffic campus buildings and at the collaborating offices.
Campus Needs Assessment (2016)
Responses from students show that:
- 43% have experienced food insecurity. Of these students:
- 9% have experienced this once
- 8% have experienced it one to two times per semester
- 1% have experienced it three to four times per semester
- 5% have experienced it five or more times per semester
- 54% have been aware of another student who was experiencing food insecurity
Responses from faculty and staff show that:
- 37% have known of a student experiencing hunger
- 35% advise a club or organization of students who would be willing to volunteer to staff the pantry
- 66% would be or know their organization would be willing to donate to the pantry
- 54% agree that a student food pantry is needed at UTC
- 43% reported being unsure whether a food pantry is needed at UTC, which highlights the need for more information and education about the prevalence of food insecurity across the entire campus