(Franklin, VA) — A grant from Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation in April has allowed Camp Community College to establish food pantries on the Franklin and Hobbs Suffolk campuses, the Camp Center at Smithfield and more recently, at the Regional Warehouse and Distribution Training Facility.
Alleviating food insecurity among college students has been at the forefront of initiatives for educational institutions for some time. Even more awareness was heightened by a report released by the Wisconsin Hope Lab in 2018 by Dr. Sara Goldrick-Rab and her associates.
“The report informs us that nearly half of all students enrolled in two- and four-year schools have faced food insecurity within the past 30 days of their taking the survey,” said College Success Coach Dr. Sandra Walker of the Students Transitioning through Education Programs Successfully (STEPS) team at Camp. “We have to minimize barriers so that our students can succeed.”
During June through September, 574 pounds of food were distributed from the food pantry on the Hobbs Suffolk Campus while 962 pounds were given out at the Franklin Campus. In addition, 90 pounds of items were allotted to those in need at the Camp Center in Smithfield and 797 pounds were meted out at the Regional Warehouse and Distribution Training Facility.
“There are no forms to fill out or questions asked regarding students’ need,” said Walker. “All they have to do is select what they need from the pantry.”
Items include canned vegetables and tuna, packaged cereals, soups, crackers and peanut butter. In addition to the food, students are provided resources that could be beneficial to them, like the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore’s monthly mobile schedule, with whom Camp partners, and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program fliers to let them know how to apply for the federal aid food program.
“We also provide information about the STEPs Community Resources Toolkit that links students to more than 230 non-academic resources located in Camp’s service region and the Student Emergency Fund request application, which is supported by the Camp Community College Foundation,” said Walker.
While the current pantries are operating during Camp’s normal business hours, they could be extended later if needed.
“A fifth food pantry site is being considered to be created at the Regional Workforce Development Center in Franklin,” she said.
“This grant has allowed us to continue supporting our students so that they may achieve their academic and career goals,” said Camp President Dr. Dan Lufkin, who established a foodbank committee at the college in 2017. “The food pantries are helping our students stay focused on their studies rather than on being hungry.”