Food insecurity, the lack of reliable access to sufficient amounts of affordable, nutritious food, is common at colleges and universities nationwide and potentially undermines students’ educational success, according to a National Student Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness (NSCAHH) report.
Inspired by the NSCAHH report, Thomas Nelson Community College will address this growing concern with the launch of a food pantry at its Hampton campus in the coming months. Called the Care Team Cupboard, the pantry will provide various non-perishable items for students and College personnel who may have food insecurities.
“This is an important endeavor for so many reasons. In researching this, it was discovered that our brain is two percent of our body mass; however, it consumes 20 percent of our caloric intake and hence it is so essential for students and our whole community to have quality food to sustain themselves so that they can achieve up to their potential,” said Thomas Nelson Counselor and Coordinator of Disability Support Services Richard Hurst, one of the project’s key coordinators.
A $5,000 Faculty-Staff Innovator Grant from Thomas Nelson’s Educational Foundation for spring 2017 provided start-up costs and the pantry will rely on steady donations to sustain. “If generous donations are provided through the Thomas Nelson Foundation, the Care Team Cupboard is able to purchase food at 19 cents a pound through the Peninsula Food Bank (PFB). Thomas Nelson will be the first college partnering with PFB to create a food pantry,” said Hurst.
“Thomas Nelson and PFB will be able to potentially distribute over 26,000 pounds of food over the next year,” he added. Hurst thanked Educational Foundation officials, donors, Interim Vice President for Student Affairs Kris Rarig and Dean of Student Services/Title IX Coordinator Betsy Harrison for supporting the initiative.
Work such as painting, shelf installation and more is in progress at the Griffin Hall space where the cupboard will be housed. The cupboard’s grand opening in Room 221Q will be announced soon.
While the food pantry will be open to all on campus, said Hurst, several details such as use frequency are being worked out. “We have not finalized the specifics regarding once every two weeks or once a week yet; but, will soon develop a plan and it may evolve in order to efficiently meet the needs of those that need the assistance. The Peninsula Food Bank does require a tracking of numbers served as well and those details too will also be finalized in the near future,” he said.
“This is just one small need of many that our students face and with the tremendous generosity of those here at Thomas Nelson and others in the seven areas we serve. We hope to continue forward with this program and expand it and look into other areas to meet the needs of our students so that they can succeed and also make a difference in their community,” said Hurst.
To support the Care Team Cupboard with a donation to Thomas Nelson’s Educational Foundation, visit www.tncc.edu/foundation. Additionally, proceeds from AmazonSmile will also support the cupboard. Simply shop at smile.amazon.com and select Thomas Nelson Educational Foundation as your charitable organization. Click here to start using AmazonSmile.
Hurst said anyone interested in participating in the Care Team to support the cupboard and its other efforts may attend a series of meetings this summer. Meetings will take place June 5, July 12 and Aug. 14 at 8:30 a.m. at the Hampton campus in Diggs Hall, Room 158 and Room 110 at the Historic Triangle campus in Williamsburg.