Food pantry expands for students with food insecurities at Valencia College

‘VCentials’ offers snacks, canned food, protein and hygiene products

ORLANDO, Fla. – The food pantry at Valencia College west campus expanded in a different way to give students in need a chance to shop for groceries at no cost.

The pantry is called “VCentials” and it’s a new space where students can find snacks, canned food, protein, and even hygiene products.

“I don’t know about you, but I can’t imagine trying to learn algebra at the same time that I’m hungry. I had one of our students tell us, you know the difference between high school and college is? In high school, I got lunch,” said Kathleen Plinske, president of Valencia College.

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According to a 2021 survey administered by the college, 40% of students reported they were financially unable to buy meals.

Student Thomas Jarrett said he’s seen the demand over the last several months.

“I’ve seen in some instances 200 a month, some instances 125, so we do see a lot of students and like I said, previously, that was the first summer we had open, and we already saw crazy amount of students coming in,” Jarrett said.

The Florida Blue Foundation donated close to $400,000 in grants to Valencia College to expand the program.

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About the Author:

Ezzy Castro is a multimedia journalist on News 6's morning team who has a passion for telling the stories of the people in the Central Florida community. Ezzy worked at WFOR CBS4 in South Florida and KBMT in Beaumont, Texas, where she covered Hurricane Harvey in 2017. Being from Miami, Ezzy loves Cuban coffee and croquetas!