VT student raise money to help students who can’t afford food

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BLACKSBURG, VA (WFXR News) – A group of Virginia Tech students are raising money to help more students have access to food.

The group Food Access for Students has started a GoFundMe account and raised more than $3,000.

“About one and three students worry about where the next meal comes from. SO we wanted to make sure we were doing something about that,” said Food Access for Students President Cortney Steele.

Steele and Anurag Mantha started Food Access for Students to help fight food insecurity. Something Anurag says he’s dealt with.

“For me, it’s important because I’m an international student, I’m from India, and I faced these similar issues during my first 2 semesters at Virginia Tech,” said the co-founder.

Mantha says he wasn’t getting assistance and had to pay his own tuition.

“The cost of living is high, especially with the foreign exchange conversion involved. And so there were times when I needed help and I didn’t know where to go. And there was also the stigma associated with asking for help.”

It’s an issue that other students have also noticed.

“I know a lot of my friends go through food insecurity because it’s so difficult to afford not only school tuition, textbooks, rent and just day to day basic necessities. So food, of course, is a problem,” said senior Mariam Ouattara.

Now the group want to help out other students who may be in similar situations. They plan on getting enough money to buy students $200 gift cards to a local grocery store. The gift cards will go to students in need based on referrals.

“Typically students are referred to by resources, basically centers at Virginia Tech, such as frequently advisors, career centers, people who would be in touch with students who need these,” Steele said.

The gift cards would give immediate short term relief to those who need it. Something other students think will make a big impact.

“Definitely think we should come together to definitely hope those of us who really can’t afford basic needs and stuff,” said Freshman John Joyce.

“I think it’s just a great way to really support those students and let them know that they are wanted in the community and that there are people looking out for them,” Ouattara said.

The group’s goal is set at $10,000 to be able to buy 50 gift cards, but that’s only the start. They say this would only be a short term solution, and they want to start the conversation to help make a long term one.

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