One in three college students in this country does not get enough to eat every day. And that statistic is from before the pandemic.
Food insecurity on campus has been a hidden problem for a long time and Virginia Tech is stepping in to help.
It’s called The Market and it’s sort of like Hello Fresh meets the classic food pantry. But it’s free of charge for college and students who qualify.
“And so, you order your box each week and then the following week, it would show up at your doorstep and you open it up and there's consistently high-quality food in there.”
Mackenzie Roach is a Junior studying chemical engineering. She actually splits the order with her sister, also a tech student. “The meat was like-- the proteins were great, the fresh vegetables and fruit every time, a couple of little treats here and there.”
But it’s so much more than a treat, these boxes may contain the only food students in this food assistance program will get. That is, if they apply for it.
“There definitely is a stigma around it, which I think is unfortunate because as college kids, we're all about, you know, trying to seem strong and put together; that we have everything planned out. Well, that's definitely far from the truth for a lot of people. And so, I didn't really know that this resource was out there.”
It wasn’t out there until two married Tech grads made a $1.5 million gift to get the food security project going. Hema and Mehul Sanghani, who now work in the tech sector, wanted to do this for their Alma Mater, the place where they met. “So, we're really partnering with the university," says Mehul Sanghani, "to be thoughtful and methodical about how we expand this program. Obviously, doing this in the midst of a pandemic has its own challenges, but working hand in glove with a stakeholder community within the university. And the university has been supremely supportive, from the president of the school, Dr. Sands on down, in establishing the right governance for this, so that it can have long-term success.”
“We both wanted to be actively involved,” says Hema Sanghani. “Virginia Tech and Virginia are our roots. We're pretty excited to be able to do something that ill, we hope, help the community.”
***Editor's Note: Radio IQ is a service of Virginia Tech.