For the entire month of November, the Patriot Pantry – the student food pantry at Patrick Henry Community College [PHCC] – will be fully stocked thanks to the Longwood University’s Education and Social Work programs. These two Longwood programs which are provided locally through the New College Institute [NCI] have sponsored the Patriot Pantry for the month of November – forming the Patriot-lancer partnership. The Follett Higher Education Group has also offered to match the Longwood programs’ contributions as part of its Virginia Community College Schools Hunger Project.
In total, the Longwood programs’ donation and the Follett match total $1,000. The funds will be used to purchase non-perishable food items as well as staples like shampoo and dish soap.
Since its inception in 2016, the Pantry has served over 150 different students. To keep the pantry stocked, the college relies on donations from the community and college personnel.
“We are very excited to be partnering with Longwood University at NCI to battle food insecurity on our campus. Next to transportation, hunger is one of our largest barriers to retention and completion,” says Student Success Center Director and pantry manager, Christy Tilley. “This generous donation will be extremely beneficial to our students – especially during the holiday season when many of them meet this challenge.”
According to data collected by Temple University and Wisconsin HOPE Lab, 42 percent of community college students in the US are food insecure. According to the data Tilley and her staff have collected, offering immediate assistance for hungry students does more than allay one day of hunger. Students are more likely to stay in school and complete a course of study when they receive services to meet their pressing needs.
“We know students have access to financial aid which gets them to the school, but it doesn’t cover basic necessities,” Pamela Randall, Longwood’s Program Coordinator at NCI, said. “It’s not enough just to go to school. No one can learn until their basic needs are met.”
Randall explained that the idea to donate to PHCC Patriot Pantry was born out of thankfulness. “Our theme this month is ‘being thankful.’ Not only are we thankful for food, shelter, and education, we’re thankful for PHCC. Longwood wouldn’t have a presence in Martinsville without PHCC.”
The partnership between PHCC and Longwood enables students to earn an associate degree at PHCC then finish their bachelor’s degree through Longwood at NCI– all without leaving Martinsville. Randall pointed out that helping students be successful at PHCC by providing a donation to the food pantry could increase the likelihood that those students will one day start their bachelor’s program at Longwood University.