Laurel Ridge is now offering free meals and hygiene items to students in need.
The college’s two campuses in Fauquier County and Middletown are splitting a $4,800 Food Insecurity Grant from the Virginia Foundation for Community College Education to help alleviate issues of hunger among students.
“At the Fauquier Campus, we have stations that are stocked with breakfast and lunch foods, as well as some snack items,” Laurel Ridge Assistant Director of Financial Aid Kaitlyn Lambert says. “We have hygiene stations in several of the bathrooms that contain feminine hygiene products, toothpaste, deodorant, soap and other items.”
Laurel Ridge began providing the stations to students in March. At the same time, the college began accepting applications from students with greater need, and the campus’s Feeding Success Team collects the items they need.
“We have had two students already apply since we started accepting applications in March,” Lambert says.
Fauquier Campus faculty and staff also donated to the food and hygiene stations. Items available for students to take for a meal or snack include oatmeal, popcorn, breakfast bars, granola, crackers, soup and tuna fish.
“We have a great deal of students who either cannot get off campus to access food, or they don’t have funding to buy it,” Lambert says. “We wanted to be able to provide them with nutritional items so they can stay focused on learning.
“The stations have had a big impact on several students. I know one student who is dropped off in the morning and stays on campus all day long.”
That student had been eating expired food from a community refrigerator and items from fellow students’ lunches, Lambert says. Now, she is getting the nourishment she needs.
The majority of the 23 colleges that make up the Virginia Community College System offer food pantries on campus or deliver groceries to students. The Wisconsin HOPE Lab found that 42 percent of community college students experienced food insecurity.
Food and hygiene donations can be dropped off at the financial aid office on campus. For more information, email Lambert at [email protected].