Posted on Tuesday, September 10, 2019

What began as a few shelves of non-perishable food items donated by students and faculty transformed at the beginning of the fall semester into a complete food pantry that now fills an entire office at Virginia Western Community College’s Student Life Center.

The newly dubbed “Virginia Western Student Co-Op fueled by Kroger” offers students consistent access to high-quality, healthy foods at no cost.

Kroger and Kraft Heinz each donated $10,000 to the project. In addition to inventory, Kroger provided new shelving, fresh paint and signage. Kraft Heinz provided a cooler to stock refrigerated foods.

Kroger executive David Dantzler, a former member of the VWCC Educational Foundation Board, worked tirelessly to bring the Student Co-Op to fruition, meeting with food pantry experts and nutritionists to help develop a process and inventory to meet students’ needs.

“People don’t always consider college students when thinking of groups who face hunger, but many of these students are food insecure,” said Dantzler. “Establishing new partnerships and finding creative ways to solve hunger in the community is the spirit of our Zero Hunger Zero Waste commitment. We’re proud to stand with Kraft Heinz to bring food to Virginia Western Community College students who are struggling to find their next meal.”

“With the support of Kroger and Kraft Heinz, we now have an amazing opportunity to impact student success in a way we never have before,” said Amanda Mansfield, Virginia Western’s Philanthropy Director. “We truly believe that if we can fuel their bodies, we can fuel their minds.”

The Student Co-Op will be managed through Virginia Western’s student services, operating on an honor system with students logging their ID numbers to enter the space. The college plans to expand this pilot program to continue building partnerships to fulfill student needs.

Read VWCC’s news release here.

Corporate support has played an important role in VCCS’s response to student food security issues.

Featured image: Kroger executive David Dantzler and Roanoke Vice-Mayor Joe Cobb inspect VWCC’s new “Student Co-Op.”'

Jim Babb

Jim Babb works for Virginia's Community Colleges in the Office of Strategic Communications.

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