Students browsing the shelves at Food for Thought

Richmond — Thanks to the Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation’s continued partnership with the Virginia Foundation for Community College Education (VFCCE), Southwest Virginia Community College (Southwest) received $6000 to expand hunger relief initiatives and promote food security among students.  

Southwest used a portion of the funding to stock their on-campus “Food for Thought” food pantry with non-perishable, grab-and-go food items. Meal cards for the Eagle Café campus cafeteria were also purchased allowing students to enjoy hot meals and fresh salads. 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.  

Lisa Haywood, Advising Coordinator at Southwest, had this to say “Southwest students have appreciated the benefit of hot meals and fresh salads provided by the meal cards. One student stated she would not have food for breakfast or lunch if it were not for Food for Thought and the meal cards supplied this semester. This has enabled her to continue her education without hunger being a barrier to her success. She will graduate in the spring with an AA&S in Science. She is representative of the hundreds who have benefited from the generosity of Anthem.” 

Food insecurity represents a significant challenge for many students. A fall 2020 survey of all 23 community colleges 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. 

“Southwest Virginia Community College has been a wonderful partner is 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, VCCS Vice Chancellor and VFCCE Executive Director.  

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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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 Southwest Virginia Community College (Southwest): Established in 1967, Southwest Virginia Community College is a two-year institution of higher education serving primarily the residents of the counties of Buchanan, Dickenson (partial), Russell and Tazewell. Offering more than 80 programs of study, Southwest has served more than 109,000 students since opening. In addition to credit-based programs, Southwest offers fast-track training and industry recognized credentials. For more information, please visit http://www.sw.edu

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/.