NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — The next time you’re at the MacArthur Center, you might notice a new storefront.
It’s called “The Community Feed” and was opened through a partnership with Tidewater Community College and the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore to help community college students battling food insecurity.
“Our students in community college face so many barriers. Food insecurity is another huge barrier that many of our students face,” said Dr. Marcia Conston, who is the president of TCC. “Having an opportunity for them to come right across the street to obtain free food will eliminate a huge barrier many of our students face.”
The idea for The Community Feed formed back in 2017, according to Dr. Ruth Jones Nichols, the president and CEO of the foodbank. She says last year, TowneBank donated money to make it possible.
“This is a place where we will ideally feed hope, feed dreams, and feed transformation. That’s important because we don’t believe any individuals should be hungry, especially when they’re working so hard to fulfill their dreams and potential,” she said.
The program will allow TCC students to get free healthy food options from their pantry, farmer’s market or order meal kits online.
The space also includes workspaces and will also provide information for students to overcome food insecurity.
Jones Nichols says food insecurity stems from a number of issues and they want to help provide for students not just now, but in the future.
“We will offer information about affordable housing, quality healthcare, workforce development, higher education as well as financial literacy. There are so many things our community members and residents can learn,” she said.
Jones Nichols also says Townebank has offered support for the initiative for five years and they’re hoping to expand to help community college students at other campus locations and higher education institutions.
The opening at the mall also comes at a good time for MacArthur Center, which is looking to repurpose empty spaces.
Jim Wofford, who is the general manager, says as more brick-and-mortar stores have closed due to online shopping, the mall launched “Live 360” — and The Community Feed is perfectly timed to fit in.
“What we do with ‘Live 360’ is try to embody everything about the community and let them think of those spaces in the center as an opportunity for gathering,” he said.
The Community Feed will open on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. To learn more information, click here.
Conston hopes that when students use the space, they will leaving knowing that the community cares about their well-being.
“I think they’ll have a sense of joy knowing the college and the community cares enough about them to address this need of food security,” she said.
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