A grocery gift card drive is focusing on helping college students combat food insecurity and improve access to nutritious food as area schools prepare to reopen this fall.
The Columbia Food Policy Committee, a municipal group that addresses area food system issues, is sponsoring the drive, with support from Richland County Council and the county’s Department of Government and Community Services. Donated gift cards purchased from Food Lion and Publix stores will be distributed among food pantries at Allen University, Benedict College, Columbia College, the University of South Carolina, and the USC School of Law.
Students will be able to access the food panties even if they do not live on campus because of COVID-19 health concerns or other reasons, according to a news release from Richland County.
Gift cards can be mailed to Center of Leadership & Social Change, Columbia College, 1301 Columbia College Drive, Columbia, SC 29203. For questions about e-gift cards, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
“The fact that some of our local colleges and universities here in Richland County have food pantries on campus for students tells us that food insecurity is an issue that needs attention,” Bryant Davis, assistant director of Richland County GCS, said in the release.
The county also said the gift cards will help students who may rely on restaurant and retail jobs affected by the pandemic.
“Richland County Council has made it our goal to help support residents and businesses struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent economic downturn, so we are pleased to see similar efforts aimed at lifting up members of our community,” Paul Livingston, Richland County Council chairman, said. “These gift cards will help students who are working hard to gain an education, which will allow them to give back and improve Richland County for years to come.”