Funding will help establish and bolster food emergency
programs across rural Virginia
New River Community College, along with the Virginia Foundation for Community College Education, is pleased to announce a $4,800 grant from the Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Anthem, Inc., to help students succeed in college programs by relieving hunger among students. The award is part of a $100,000 grant that will allow more than a dozen rural Virginia community colleges to expand food emergency offerings to students.
Awareness of food insecurity among community college students is on the rise. Some researchers say as many as half of all such students lack consistent access to nutritious food, particularly in underserved communities. Virginia’s Community Colleges are working with partners, like Anthem, to minimize these student success barriers to promote greater academic attainment and promote better long-term health outcomes.
“Hunger is an all-to-real distraction from learning for some of our students. The food pantry is one way we can work to alleviate that obstacle,” said NRCC President Pat Huber. “NRCC is proud that we are able to provide this service to our students. Our goal is to comprehensively serve and support our students, whether that is inside the classroom or outside the classroom. Whatever circumstances have placed them in the unfortunate situations where they and their families are experiencing food insecurity, we want to make sure we have the resources to keep hunger from being a barrier to their classroom success.”
NRCC’s food pantry began in 2017 and is supported by donations to the NRCC Educational Foundation. The new grant funds will supplement the existing program and help to continue serving students’ needs. Donations for the food pantry come not only from this grant but also from additional sources such as employee gifts and related fundraisers. For example, the NRCC Support Staff Assembly recently began a healthy living weight loss competition for faculty and staff on campus as a fundraiser to support the food pantry.
“Anthem’s mission is to improve lives and communities and to make healthcare simpler. To help us accomplish this we work with local organizations to develop community-specific approaches that remove barriers and improve health,” said Jennie Reynolds, president, Anthem’s Virginia Medicaid Plan. “Food insecurity is associated with some of the most serious and costly chronic health problems, and it’s important we continue to identify ways to address this serious issue in our communities where help is needed and can be readily accessed. That is why we are excited about this unique partnership with Virginia’s Community Colleges, which allows us to not only address this critical issue, but also helps to bring greater awareness to the problem of hunger on campus.”