TCC working to combat food insecurity in students with mobile food pantry

PORTSMOUTH, Va. - Studying, paying bills, taking exams and often providing for a family - it's often a lot to juggle for a college student.

So, with Thanksgiving a week away, Tidewater Community College in Portsmouth pulled out all the stops Wednesday, working to give students in need of a fridge full of food a little reprieve.

"We have baby onions and the last bag is apples, mac 'n cheese, turkeys," volunteers yelled out.

Dozens of students lined up at the student center, going through a line as they bagged up a Thanksgiving feast.

"We know when they leave the campus they often go home to no food, or students are just not able to successfully take an exam because they are simply hungry," said Provost Michelle Woodhouse.

Woodhouse said food insecurity and homelessness is rampant on many TCC campuses and said they knew they needed to come out with an idea to combat the hunger pains.

"This really helps a lot of people, especially those in my situation who don't have money for the food all the time, and I have no car to get to the store," said student Michiah Owens.

Related: Sentara CarePlex in Hampton introduces 'Food Pharmacy' programĀ 

TCC recently partnered with the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore. The partnership includes a campus-based food pantry and eventually a food scholarship program at both the Portsmouth and Norfolk campuses.

The food and permanent pantry that will soon hit the campuses in 2020 is made possible by a $250,000 gift from Towne Bank.

The food scholarship program will provide qualifying students with a consistent source of food as long as they continue to pursue their TCC degree or certificate.

The food pantry provides meals for 150 households at each distribution.

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