Campus food pantry offerings improved thanks to Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation grant

For Immediate Release:
December 7, 2021

Primary Media Contact:
Sally Voth
Public Relations Specialist
[email protected]
Phone: 540-868-7134

Laurel Ridge Success Coach Julie Fainter packs a meal kit on the Fauquier Campus.

Pantries helping those of our students suffering from food insecurity will be better stocked thanks to a $6,000 grant from the Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation, which worked in partnership with the Virginia Foundation for Community College Education (VFCCE).

The grant will allow the college to increase and diversify its offerings of fresh, healthy fare, particularly fruits and vegetables, eggs, cheese and milk; purchase refrigerators and freezers to ensure safe food storage and allow for the pantry to stock frozen meals and meal kits; and allow for increased distribution of hygiene items to be placed in campus bathrooms.

Both the Fauquier and Middletown campuses have food pantries, which are open to all students regardless of income. Food insecurity represents a significant challenge for many students. A fall 2020 survey of all 23 community colleges in Virginia conducted by the Hope Center revealed that one-third of students are faced with food insecurity. Furthermore, 63 percent do not apply for public benefits because they are unaware of their eligibility. By providing students with the resources needed to succeed, Anthem is creating equal access to economic mobility.

Anthem awarded a total of $100,000 to community colleges across the state to provide flexible funds for supporting hunger relief efforts and connecting students to sustaining public benefits.

“Laurel Ridge has been a wonderful partner in meeting the needs of all students. We are inspired by the college’s efforts to address food insecurity and realize this is critical to helping students reach graduation,” stated Dr. Jennifer Gentry, Virginia Community College System vice chancellor and VFCCE executive director.

“We’re very excited about this grant from Anthem; it will allow us to expand what is offered at our pantry – which is open to everyone,” said Kaitlyn Lambert, assistant director of financial aid at Laurel Ridge. “We had not been able to provide fresh, healthy foods previously, so most of our supplies were grab-and-go items like canned soup, snacks, breakfast bars, etc.

“Student feedback showed a desire for healthy and fresh food for their families, so we have been working towards expanding since then. We have even been in touch with local businesses and community gardens to expand our offerings and build strong relationships with our community partners. With this new funding, we are also hoping to offer mini meal prep sessions with recipe cards, so students learn how to prepare the fresh foods with the resources available. We have learned that some students only have access to a microwave, a plug-in griddle, or other small appliances so we wanted to share a variety of options.”

Faculty, staff, community members, student clubs and even students themselves have also provided donations to the food pantries and to food and hygiene stations on our campuses. Phi Theta Kappa is doing a Feeding Your Success Supply Drive, and Student Life donated a fridge to a Fauquier Campus Success Station, where students can heat up meals, grab snacks and get health and hygiene products.

An Laurel Ridge employee donated money so the Middletown Campus could get a refrigerator for the pantry, and both PTK and the Stem Club have donated items, according to Viviane Meder, coordinator of both TRIO and disability services.

“In addition to shelf-stable items, we try to keep in stock other necessary items, such as hygiene products, clothing, face masks and diapers,” she said. “Kaitlyn and I both firmly believe that if students need something, we try to make it happen without requiring a lot of forms, or process, which can deter students from taking advantage of services they need.”

This marks the third consecutive year that the Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation has partnered with the VFCCE to address food insecurity; by supporting hunger relief, Anthem is helping students finish college, pursue fulfilling careers, and build healthier futures.

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Founded in 1970, Laurel Ridge Community College is a multi-campus public institution of higher education. With four locations — Middletown, Warrenton, Luray-Page County and most recently, Vint Hill— the College serves eight localities in the Shenandoah Valley and northern Piedmont regions. The localities are the counties of Clarke, Fauquier, Frederick, Page, Rappahannock, Shenandoah and Warren and the city of Winchester. Laurel Ridge offers more than 75 associate degree and certificate programs in a wide variety of disciplines, in addition to providing access to bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs offered on site by a four-year institution. Laurel Ridge also serves the business community by offering workforce preparation programs for employees and employers. Laurel Ridge serves more than 9,000 unduplicated credit students and more than 11,000 individuals in professional development and business and industry courses annually.

Laurel Ridge Community College is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award associate degrees. Contact the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097 or call 404-679-4500 for questions about the accreditation of Laurel Ridge Community College. Laurel Ridge Community College is an equal opportunity institution providing educational and employment opportunities, programs, services, and activities and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, sex, age, religion, disability, national origin, marital status, political affiliation, sexual orientation, or other non-merit factors. Laurel Ridge also prohibits sexual misconduct including sexual violence or harassment.

About Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation: Through charitable grant making, the Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation LLC, an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, promotes Anthem’s inherent commitment to enhance the health and well-being of individuals and families in communities that Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield serves. The Foundation focuses its funding on strategic initiatives that make up its Healthy Generations Program, a multi-generational initiative that targets: maternal health, diabetes prevention, cancer prevention, heart health and healthy, active lifestyles, behavioral health efforts and programs that benefit people with disabilities. The Foundation also coordinates the company’s year-round Dollars for Dollars program which provides a 100 percent match of associates’ donations, as well as its Volunteer Time Off and Dollars for Doers community service programs. ®ANTHEM is a registered trademark of Anthem Insurance Companies, Inc. The Blue Cross and Blue Shield names and symbols are registered marks of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.

About Virginia’s Community Colleges (VCCS): Since 1966, Virginia’s Community Colleges have given everyone the opportunity to learn and develop the right skills so lives and communities are strengthened. By making higher education and workforce training available in every part of Virginia, we elevate all of Virginia. Together, Virginia’s Community Colleges serve approximately 250,000 students each year. For more information, please visit https://www.vccs.edu/.

The Virginia Foundation for Community College Education (VFCCE) is a supporting arm of Virginia’s 23 community colleges. It works to broaden educational access, promote student success, and provide innovative solutions to workforce needs. To ensure access to high quality, affordable education, the VFCCE provides statewide leadership in raising funds for community college education, supplementing the activities of the 23 individual colleges, and advocating for major system-wide initiatives that could not be undertaken by any single college. For more information, please visit https://vfcce.org/.

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Founded in 1970, Laurel Ridge Community College is a multi-campus public institution of higher education. With four locations — Middletown, Warrenton, Luray-Page County and most recently, Vint Hill— the College serves eight localities in the Shenandoah Valley and northern Piedmont regions. The localities are the counties of Clarke, Fauquier, Frederick, Page, Rappahannock, Shenandoah and Warren and the city of Winchester. Laurel Ridge offers more than 75 associate degree and certificate programs in a wide variety of disciplines, in addition to providing access to bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs offered on site by a four-year institution. Laurel Ridge also serves the business community by offering workforce preparation programs for employees and employers. Laurel Ridge serves more than 9,000 unduplicated credit students and more than 11,000 individuals in professional development and business and industry courses annually.

Laurel Ridge Community College (Laurel Ridge) is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award associate degrees. Contact the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097 or call 404-679-4500 for questions about the accreditation of Laurel Ridge Community College. Laurel Ridge Community College is an equal opportunity institution providing educational and employment opportunities, programs, services, and activities and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, sex, age, religion, disability, national origin, marital status, political affiliation, sexual orientation, or other non-merit factors. Laurel Ridge also prohibits sexual misconduct including sexual violence or harassment.

Laurel Ridge Community College was known as Lord Fairfax Community College until June 2022. For consistency purposes, the college will be referenced as Laurel Ridge going forward.

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