Chain of Checks awards $5,000 grant to Laurel Ridge’s food pantries

For Immediate Release:
January 13, 2022

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

group photo
Pictured left to right: Laurel Ridge President Kim Blosser, Community Foundation of the Northern Shenandoah Valley Executive Director Larry Weiss, Chain of Checks Campaign President Barry Lee, Laurel Ridge TRIO Director and Coordinator of Disability Services Vivi Meder, and Laurel Ridge Dean of Students Amber Foltz.

Laurel Ridge’s efforts to keep our students nourished were bolstered by a $5,000 grant Wednesday from the Chain of Checks Campaign. Chain of Checks founder and president, retired radio personality Barry Lee, presented the check to Vivi Meder, who is the college’s coordinator of disability services and the director of the TRIO program.

All students – regardless of income – are welcome to use the food pantry on the Middletown Campus and feeding stations on the Fauquier Campus. Food insecurity represents a significant challenge for many of our students. A 2020 survey of all 23 colleges in the Virginia Community College System found that one-third of students faced food insecurity, with 63 percent not applying for public benefits because they were unaware of their eligibility.

The Fauquier Campus’s feeding stations allow students to heat and eat a meal or snack on the go, while the Middletown Campus has shelf-stable foods, hygiene items, scarves and more. With a faculty member’s recent donation of a refrigerator, the pantry is able to now offer frozen meals, produce and meat. Additionally, bathrooms on both campuses feature hygiene stations where students can stock up on needed items in more privacy, according to Dean of Students Amber Foltz.

Laurel Ridge’s food pantry was one of four charities selected to benefit from the 2021 Chain of Checks Campaign. The Community Foundation of the Northern Shenandoah Valley serves as Chain of Checks’ fiscal agent.

“Stop and think about it – how can you learn when you’re hungry,” said Lee as he presented the check to Meder in the TRIO Lounge on the Middletown Campus. “They have an incredible program here, and we’re just happy to be able to help them out.”

In thanking Lee, Meder said, “This is a big help. It really does take a village to keep the food pantry running, so every bit is so appreciated.”

Many students are in programs that provide financial assistance, said Laurel Ridge President Kim Blosser.

“But they’re still struggling with housing, food, and other parts of their life, and they can come in here and eat before they go to class, or they pick up food to have on the weekends,” she said.

Lee, who retired last year after many years with Winc-FM, started the first Chain of Checks Campaign in 1986.

“I love Christmas, and when you’re on the radio you don’t see listeners, and I wanted some kind of physical connection,” said Lee, who has a daily podcast, “Breakfast with Barry Lee.”

He asked his listeners to send in $1 to help the less fortunate over the holidays.

“People really got into the spirit of it,” Lee said.

Some people sent multiple checks of a dollar each, and the radio crew made a paper chain of checks around the studio. More than $1.5 million has been raised since that first year.

“This is an incredibly giving community,” said Lee.

For more information about the Laurel Ridge food pantries, visit To learn more about Chain of Checks, go to


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.