College’s pantries feed students

Published 10:26 pm Friday, November 22, 2019

With a grant from the Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation in April, Paul D. Camp Community College has established 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.

According to the Wednesday press release, alleviating food insecurity among college students has been a priority for educational institutions for some time.

Awareness for the issue was heightened even more by a report that was released by the Wisconsin Hope Lab in 2018, written by Dr. Sara Goldrick-Rab and her associates.

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“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,” College Success Coach Dr. Sandra Walker, of the Students Transitioning through Education Programs Successfully team at Camp, stated in the Wednesday press release. “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, the press release states.

Additionally, 90 pounds of items were allotted to those in need at the Camp Center in Smithfield, and 797 pounds were distributed at the Regional Warehouse and Distribution Training Facility.

“There are no forms to fill out or questions asked regarding students’ need,” according to Walker. “All they have to do is select what they need from the pantry.”

These items include canned vegetables and tuna, packaged cereals, soups, crackers and peanut butter. Students are also provided potentially beneficial resources in addition to the food, like the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore’s monthly mobile schedule, with whom Camp partners, and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program fliers, which let them know how to apply for aid to purchase food.

“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,” Walker stated.

While the current pantries are operating during Camp’s normal business hours, they could be extended later if needed, and Walker added that a fifth food pantry site is being considered for the Regional Workforce Development Center in Franklin.

“This grant has allowed us to continue supporting our students so that they may achieve their academic and career goals,” Camp President Dr. Dan Lufkin, who established a foodbank committee at the college in 2017, stated in the press release. “The food pantries are helping our students stay focused on their studies rather than on being hungry.”