Survey Shows the Extent of Food and Housing Insecurity Students at Virginia’s Community Colleges Face

Home|News|Survey Shows the Extent of Food and Housing Insecurity Students at Virginia’s Community Colleges Face

MEDIA CONTACTS:

Jeffrey Kraus
Asst. Vice Chancellor for
Strategic Communications
(804) 592-6767
jkraus@vccs.edu

Scott Golden
Corporate Communications
Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield
(804) 354-5252
scott.golden@anthem.com

(RICHMOND) – April 22, 2021 — Students at Virginia’s Community Colleges (VCCS) already grappling with food insecurity have experienced even greater challenges in the past year due to economic and other disruptions resulting from the coronavirus pandemic.

A recently released #RealCollege Survey of students at all 23 colleges across the state reveals:

  • 32 percent reported food insecurity in the previous 30 days, meaning they were sometimes unsure where their next meal was coming from.
  • 42 percent of VCCS students reported housing insecurity in the previous 12 months, and 10 percent had experienced homelessness in that period.

“Even before COVID-19, we knew many of our students had to overcome non-academic barriers to their success,” said VCCS Chancellor Glenn DuBois. “Now we have statewide numbers for the first time that show the extent of food and housing insecurity facing our students. The numbers are sobering, but it’s important that we have a realistic picture of the challenges that students face, so we can try to help wherever and whenever we can.”

Over the past 18 months, with financial support from grants from the Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation to the Virginia Foundation for Community College Education (VFCCE), food pantry and other emergency food operations have been established or expanded at community colleges across the state.

The Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation also provided funding for the student needs survey.

“When we first partnered with our community colleges, we knew food insecurity was an issue, but we didn’t realize the extent to which so many students and their families faced challenges around access to housing and food,” said Jennie Reynolds, president of Anthem Health Keepers Plus, Anthem’s Medicaid plan in Virginia. “The survey results confirm the need and should serve as an eye-opener to all of us. We’ve worked with the VFCCE to take an important first step to combat these issues with the creation and expansion of food pantries at Virginia community colleges. Now, we all need to work together to ensure adequate food and housing resources continue to grow so students can focus on their studies and not worry about their next meal or where they will spend the night.”

As part of Anthem’s commitment to ensure access to nutritious food in communities across the U.S., the Anthem Foundation provided funding to distribute and package more than 700 thousand meals last year.

“We’re very grateful to the Anthem for their support in relieving hunger facing many students,” said VFCCE Executive Director, Dr. Jennifer Gentry. “The comprehensive nature of the survey’s results will allow us to better communicate this pressing need and provide students with the resources they need to succeed.”

The #RealCollege Survey was conducted last fall by the Hope Center for College, Community and Justice at Temple University, a leading source of information about the welfare of college students across the country. The Hope Center plans to publish additional results from the Virginia survey in June.

The survey was made available to more than 122,900 students at Virginia’s Community Colleges and taken by 10,671 of them, yielding an estimated response rate of 9 percent.

Learn more about the #RealCollege Survey by visiting:   https://hope4college.com/rc2021-bni-during-the-ongoing-pandemic/.

 

About Virginia’s Community Colleges (VCCS): Since 1966, Virginia’s Community Colleges have given everyone the opportunity to learn and develop the right skills so lives and communities are strengthened. By making higher education and workforce training available in every part of Virginia, we elevate all of Virginia. Together, Virginia’s Community Colleges serve more than 250,000 students each year. For more information, please visit https://www.vccs.edu/.

The Virginia Foundation for Community College Education (VFCCE) is the supporting arm of Virginia’s 23 community colleges. The VFCCE works to broaden educational access, support student success, and provide innovative solutions to workforce needs. Our mission is “Building student success and the Commonwealth’s future by supporting Virginia’s Community Colleges”. To ensure access to high quality, affordable education, the VFCCE provides statewide leadership in raising funds for community college education, supplementing and supporting the activities of the 23 individual colleges, and securing support for major system-wide initiatives that could not be undertaken by any single college. For more information, please visit https://vfcce.org/.

About Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation

Through charitable grant making, the Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation LLC, an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, promotes Anthem’s inherent commitment to enhance the health and well-being of individuals and families in communities that Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield serves. The Foundation focuses its funding on strategic initiatives that make up its Healthy Generations Program, a multi-generational initiative that targets: maternal health, diabetes prevention, cancer prevention, heart health and healthy, active lifestyles, behavioral health efforts and programs that benefit people with disabilities. The Foundation also coordinates the company’s year-round Dollars for Dollars program that provides a 100 percent match of associates’ donations, as well as its Volunteer Time Off and Dollars for Doers community service programs.  ®ANTHEM is a registered trademark of Anthem Insurance Companies, Inc. The Blue Cross and Blue Shield names and symbols are registered marks of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.

 

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