Organization builds free food pantry to target college students

Recent study shows 36 percent of college students do not have enough to eat

By Magdala Louissaint - Lynchburg Bureau Reporter

LYNCHBURG, Va. - Little food pantries continue to pop up throughout the Hill City. A recent pantry went up a few months ago to serve the Rivermont area.

“This has been a very tangible step we can take to put these pantries throughout the city, throughout the counties, where they're needed, and people can find a little bit of relief. So it's a small step, but it's great to be able to accomplish something like this,” Elise Spontarelli, executive director of Vector Space, said.

Vector Space, a group in charge of building the wooden boxes loaded with food, wants to help a different demographic--college students at the University of Lynchburg.

"College kids is a different demographic than we've served before. We look forward to seeing how that works. They may have different needs; different types of foods we stock it with,” Spontarelli said.

University of Lynchburg officials approached Vector Space, interested in wanting to bring a second food pantry to campus. It would allow 24-hour access for students and the surrounding community.

"Many of our students have a meal plan and regular access to food, but it's also hard to budget that throughout the whole semester,” Stephanie McLemore, university chaplin and director of church relations for the University of Lynchburg, said. 

The university says food insecurity is on the rise among college students nationally.

In a recent study done by Temple University, 66 colleges and universities were surveyed; 36 percent of those students did not have enough to eat. But in the Hill City where students will be back in a few months, schools hope to make the load a little lighter.

"I remember being in college, and you're just not financially secure as you might be at other times in your life. So this is a real way to provide outreach in times of less,” McLemore said.

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