augusta free press news

Partnership with VFCCE supports hunger relief

Virginia’s Community CollegesThe Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation has awarded the Virginia Foundation for Community College Education a $100,000 grant to continue hunger relief initiatives for students attending Virginia’s Community Colleges.

The funding will support and expand efforts to help students access food-related programs and complement initiatives that connect students to public benefits.

During the fall 2020 semester, Anthem provided funding for the VCCS and the Hope Center to conduct the #realcollege survey at all 23 colleges. The results revealed significant need: one-third of all community college students are challenged by food insecurity. Furthermore, 63 percent do not apply for public benefits, including SNAP, because they are unaware of their eligibility. The information gained from the survey helped determine the best ways to connect students who are struggling to make ends meet with the resources needed to be successful in college.

“The flexible nature of the funding allows each college to decide how to best address the community’s dynamic needs,” said Stewart Roberson, chair of the VFCCE. “This tailored support will provide students with the stability they need, no matter the circumstances.”

This marks the third consecutive year that Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation has partnered with the VFCCE to address food insecurity. Throughout 2019, fourteen (14) rural community colleges were able to establish or expand food emergency programs due to Anthem’s gift, which proved to be essential to serving students during pandemic-related campus closures in March 2020. Anthem’s support for hunger relief has been vital; a local survey at one college revealed that over 80 percent of respondents indicated that having food emergency support allowed them to remain enrolled, maintain virtual attendance, focus on academics, and improve grades.

“By giving colleges resources and flexibility to address food insecurity based on local needs, Anthem seeks to address the whole health of students and help them stay in college, reach their potential, and pursue fulfilling careers,” said Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield president and VFCCE board member Jennie Reynolds. “Helping more students graduate today will provide better job opportunities, higher wages, and a healthier future.”

Learn more about how the VFCCE is making a difference at vfcce.org.