Partnership feeds local college students

Published 10:04 pm Saturday, December 23, 2017

Paul D. Camp Community College and the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore recently partnered to secure additional food for students at the college’s Hobbs Suffolk and Franklin campuses, as well as students of PDCCC at Smithfield.

This fall, PDCCC President Dr. Dan Lufkin formed the PDCCC Foodbank Committee of almost a dozen administrators, staff and faculty. The committee was charged with addressing food insecurities and hunger among students and staff, as well as in the community.

Committee member met with Foodbank representatives several times during the semester to discuss a partnership. The college made a request to the Foodbank on Dec. 6 for emergency food rations when the number of students requesting food increased the week before final exams.

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“A student cannot learn if he or she is hungry,” said College Success Coach and PDCCC Foodbank Committee Member Dr. Sandra Walker. “If we’re trying to help students reach their academic and personal goals, they can’t do that if they’re hungry.”

Community Outreach Manager Taylor Miller coordinated the delivery on Dec. 13 of 50 food bags, which were divided between the two campuses and PDCCC at Smithfield.

Each bag contained cans of spaghetti and meatballs, tuna, fruit cocktail, peaches and boxes of crackers and peanut brittle. Students also received community resource toolkits with information on more than 230 non-academic related resources, such as services providing food, clothing and shelter, Walker said.

“We knew that their needs extended beyond that bag of food,” Walker said. “If a student is asking for food, then there’s usually another need that isn’t being met.”

By the close of business on Dec. 19, the college reported that all of the food bags had been distributed. Walker said most students did not let their food go to waste.

“If a student for whatever reason preferred not to eat an item, they just placed the item in the student lounge to share with other students,” she said.

She added that the committee is very optimistic about the college’s future with the Foodbank.

“We’re very appreciative of the Foodbank’s rapid response, and we’re excited about the potential of this partnership,” she said.