AP NEWS

6 community college food banks get commercial fridges

December 22, 2018

LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) — A Louisiana Medicaid provider is giving about $21,000 worth of commercial refrigerators to community colleges so they can add perishable products to charitable food pantries for students.

“We know access to food - and to nutritional food - can be hard to come by,” said Aaron Lambert, president and CEO of Healthy Blue Louisiana.

The National Student Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness reported in 2016 that nearly half of America’s college students don’t have reliable access to enough affordable, nutritious food.

The six refrigerators, which can cost about $3,500 each, will let six community colleges add foods such as fresh milk, meat, fruit and vegetables to the non-perishables that students currently can donate and pick up from their food pantries, The Daily Advertiser reported.

“A person can’t focus on education and learning without the basics of food and shelter,” said Monty Sullivan, president of the Louisiana Community and Technical College System. “And it’s not just food, but the right kinds of food.”

He said the problem is greater at community colleges, which tend to serve older students who often are supporting families.

“This is a reality of our student population, and unless we address this we will never address the educational attainment in Louisiana,” Sullivan said.

The refrigerators are going to Bossier Parish Community College, Sowela Community College, Fletcher Technical College, Nunez Community College and Delgado Community College and South Louisiana Community College.

South Louisiana Community College campuses in eight parishes have mini-pantries, much like “free little libraries,” from The Daily Advertiser’s old street-sale boxes.

Healthy Blue also has donated commercial refrigerators, freezers or both to 11 community food pantries in 10 cities: Alexandria, Baker, Baton Rouge, Erwinville, Gray, Lafayette, Lake Charles, Monroe, Shreveport and Sterlington.

Lambert said the agency is committed to community health.

“As one of the state’s Medicaid providers we are responsible for making sure our members have health care,” Lambert said. “We also are responsible for working to support the communities they live in.”

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Information from: The Advertiser, http://www.theadvertiser.com

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