Thanksgiving came a week early at Tidewater Community College’s Portsmouth Campus with a pop-up market full of everyone’s favorites for the holidays.
Students took home overflowing bags of staples, including – collard greens and apples, sweet and white potatoes, onions, stuffing, apple sauce, mac cheese and even fresh poultry. Food was supplied by the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore, a new partner in an initiative with TCC to eliminate food insecurity among college students. TowneBank donated $250,000 toward what is a five-year plan.
The pop-up market is one of several scheduled for the Norfolk and Portsmouth campuses. A campus-based Pantry and Food Scholarship Program will open in both student centers in 2020. Qualifying students will be able to access a consistent source of food as long as they continue to pursue their TCC degree or certificate.
But Wednesday’s pop-up market only required students to show their TCC ID; all were welcome.
“Having all this fresh fruit and vegetables is amazing,” said Jordan Robinson, one of an army of students lugging several bags to the parking lot.
Some students talked about using the food for tonight’s supper. Others said they will save the food to prepare a healthy Thanksgiving meal for their families.
Michelle Woodhouse, provost of the Portsmouth Campus, said when life happens – bills and tuition payments are due and unexpected expenses arise – students have to sacrifice something and often it’s their next meal. Pride often forces them to remain hungry rather than seek assistance. Grades plummet and some students are forced to drop out.
Tackling the stigma that interferes with asking for help is one of the reasons she wanted this pop-up market to be inclusive.
“We wanted to create this themed event around Thanksgiving,” she said. “We want to bring happiness to students and give them something positive around the holidays.”
Volunteers from the Foodbank teamed with TCC students and staff to assist with distribution.
As students passed through the line on the crisp fall afternoon, they juggled their knapsacks with multiple bags of food. They couldn’t say thank you enough in response to:
“How about another bag of carrots?
“Would you like a chicken?”
“For a lot of people, this is their only food,” said student Yvette Funney, mother to four children. “I’ve got chicken, potatoes, collard greens, vegetables. This is all such a blessing.”
The Portsmouth Campus will host additional pop-up markets from 11:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. on Dec 3 and Jan. 29, 2020.
The Norfolk Campus will host pop-up markets from 11:30 p.m. until 1 p.m. on Dec. 2 and Jan. 23, 2020.