Food Access for Students

Who are we?

Welcome! We are Food Access for Students (FAS), a volunteer group started by students for students at Virginia Tech.

Why our campaign?

Improving food access on college campuses is a big challenge across the nation. In a recent survey conducted at Virginia Tech, 29% of undergraduate and 35% of graduate students reported having low or very low food security.  This means that roughly one in three students on the Blacksburg campus face barriers in accessing high quality, varied, and preferred foods. For students of very low food security status, these barriers result in disrupted or reduced diets.

Numerous factors contribute to this situation, such as low student wages and graduate stipends, high living and dining costs in Blacksburg, and rising costs of education and student loan debt. Worrying where the next meal might come from takes time and energy away from studying, and it impacts physical and mental wellbeing as well.

While resources such as food pantries and assistance programs exist, most students do not utilize these because of stigmas associated with asking for help. Furthermore, these programs are designed for longer-term situations with an application and qualification process, thereby not being readily accessible to students with immediate, short- term needs.

Since August 2018, we have participated in many conversations at Virginia Tech to understand how and why some of our peers are in this position, and as a result of these conversations, we have started Food Access for Students in order to support our peers by providing immediate food access for short-term needs. 

How will we do it?

With your support, we plan to provide prepaid grocery cards for students and their families that can be used at local grocery stores. These cards may be used not only for food but for any personal supplies as well.

We are partnering with organizations and resource centers at Virginia Tech, such as the ombudsperson’s office, graduate and undergraduate student services, and student governance, who will refer students to us.

This program is open to ALL undergraduate, graduate and professional students at all locations of Virginia Tech, including Blacksburg, Roanoke, and the National Capital Region. 

How can you help?

Any donation will be helpful, and we aim to provide prepaid gift cards in the amount of $200 per card. Your donation will thus contribute to one or more of these cards. 

Our initial goal is $10,000. With this amount, we will be able to distribute about 50 cards. In addition, we will also be able to demonstrate that this cause is important to the community, hopefully sparking further action by Virginia Tech in the form of increased formal, financial support.

If you are unable to provide monetary support, you can also help by sharing your experiences with food access in college so we can most effectively and accurately contribute to conversations at the university.

We are also looking for people to join our team.

Please write to us at [email redacted] with your thoughts, comments, and concerns, or if you would like to join our team.

Thank you!

Cortney Steele and Anurag Mantha


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Fundraising team (2)

Cortney Steele 
Blacksburg, VA
Anurag Mantha 
Team member

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