Robeson Community College
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RCC’s Dr. Phoebe Harris featured in Carolina Journal

Imagine going to open your refrigerator and there’s no food. There no food in your pantry either. That’s a reality for many in our area, especially as prices continue to soar due to inflation. Many in our community are having to make tough decisions, choosing between putting food on the table or paying other expenses, like utilities, rent, or gasoline. And, many never thought they would see themselves in this situation.

That’s where people like Dr. Phoebe Harris come into play. She was recently featured in an article by Carolina Journal, Sowing Resilience Heroes: Dr. Phoebe Harris, for her efforts in helping to build and maintain the food pantry at Robeson Community College.  

“A lot of [our students], they’re coming to school and they’re just hoping they have enough gas money to get there,” Harris said in the article. “When they get here, they may or may not have food for the day. And so that’s kind of where I think our pantry kind of helps to fill that gap.” 

According to Harris, food insecurity in Robeson County is at 15%, which she defines as “needing more to eat or not even knowing where your next meal is coming from.”

And that is kind of how the food pantry got started in 2018.

Debbie Lowery, an instructor at RCC, began the pantry after she witnessed a student digging through the trash to get food. The student was only 19-years old and was homeless and hungry. Although Lowery has since passed away, her legacy of helping others continues to lives on through the pantry.

“This really became a mission for Mrs. Lowery,” Harris said. “That is where it started, and it has grown from there. It grew out of one person taking the initiative.” 

Harris has continued the pantry – she’s received donations from community, local churches, the Second Harvest Foodbank of Southeast North Carolina, and recently received a $6000 Swipe Grant to keep the shelves stocked. Lowes of Lumberton also donated a refrigerator so the pantry to could provide frozen food or foods that needed to be chilled. RCC also partners with Kamren Lewis at UNCP, and receives items when there is a surplus.

“… Food insecurity is not just on paper: it’s real. For some of our students, it’s an everyday reality,” Harris said.

To read more from the article, please visit



Dr. Phoebe Harris - Professional Photo