Virginia's Community Colleges, Anthem target student hunger

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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ7) Virginia Community College graduate LaQuisa McGlone knows the struggle that many individuals face as they pursue an education and try to provide for their families.

"And we had to make some tough life choices," McGlone said. "Do we buy gas to get to school, or do we buy a really nutritious meal to provide for our children?"

McGlone shared her experience in a video that was screened during an annual faculty conference for Virginia's Community Colleges.

Having to make those difficult decisions is becoming more common for college students across the country, says Sara Goldrick-Rab, an author and expert on food insecurity.

"When we talk about rising prices, we don't just need to talk about rising tuition," Goldrick-Rab told the audience. "We need to talk about the rising price of rent, the rising price of gas, the rising price of food, the rising price of health care, the rising price of books."

The Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation announced a $100,000 grant to expand food emergency programs at community colleges in rural areas.

Goldrick-Rab welcomed the attention to a problem she says is often under-appreciated.

"What I'm really trying to help people understand is that addressing food and housing insecurity is a way to increase college graduation,"Goldrick-Rab told WDBJ7, "and it's also a way to help insure that the students who do complete degrees at our institutions are whole when they do so."

The Anthem Foundation grant will go to 14 community colleges in rural areas across the state.