Featured image: DCC staff members shop for supplies for the college’s new food pantry
Thanks to funding from the Anthem Foundation, food pantries serving students coping with food insecurity have opened at three Virginia community colleges did not have those resources before: Danville Community College, Rappahannock Community College and Virginia Highlands Community College.
The grant was announced last spring and was directed toward bolstering emergency food offerings at the 14 VCCS colleges that serve students in Virginia’s Rural Horseshoe region.
Danville Community College’s new Knight’s Pantry is serving students now, and planning a grand opening event in early February. College volunteers teamed up with volunteers from the Center for Community Engagement and Career Competitiveness to stock and prepare the facility.
“We are excited to provide this vital service to support our students,” said DCC acting public relations director Bobby Allen Roach. “Historically, food insecurity has been one of the least talked about issues in higher education, but it is a major barrier for many students. We are happy to be taking this step to ensure our students can focus on their studies and training and not be distracted by hunger and we are infinitely grateful for the generosity of the Anthem Foundation in helping DCC to accomplish the development and deployment of our Knight’s Pantry.”
In addition to receiving support from the start-up grant funding, Rappahannock Community College is operating its food pantry in partnership with the local Healthy Harvest Food Bank. RCC’s vice president of finance Bill Doyle said, “I suspect food insecurity issues at the college level are not well known and broadly discussed within the service region. Our partnership with Healthy Harvest is shedding light on the problem and the steps we are taking with our community partner to bring relief to the problem. “
At Virginia Highlands Community College, the new food pantry has been named the “Phil Station,” in memory of a beloved college faculty member, Phil Ferguson, who lost his battle with cancer more than a year ago.
“At community college conferences we attend across the nation, we learn the top reasons students withdraw from school,” said Kellie Crowe, public relations coordinator at VHCC. “There are a lot of reasons you’d think would be on the list, but in actuality, things like food and transportation are at the top.”
“We had a student not long ago tell one of our counselors that she was so happy because her stomach was full — she had found a can of corn at home and had something to eat,” Crowe added.
The Anthem Foundation grants were secured for the rural schools through the Virginia Foundation for Community College Foundation.
You can read more about the project here.
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