College students compete to bring hunger awareness

AUGUSTA COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) — Blue Ridge Community College (BRCC) is hosting its 12th Annual Virginia Hunger Symposium this week by partnering with the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank (BRAFB) to raise hunger awareness.

The college that packs the most bushels will win the competition.

On Wednesday, colleges and universities in the area competed in an apple packing competition at the food bank.

Dr. John Downey, president of the college, said this symposium is not just about raising hunger awareness in the area, but for the entire country and world.

"I think the problem of hunger in the region is not well-known, especially among college students. There are college students who choose between buying textbooks or feeding their family," said Downey.

Students packed apples in two-hour shifts in an attempt to pack as many bushels of apples as possible. Jennifer Robertson, the volunteer and food drive coordinator for BRAFB, said this is the largest competition they have ever hosted.

"This is just really truly amazing for us, just being able to develop the relationships with these schools, having them here to support the food bank, it just means so much to us and we can't thank them enough," said Robertson.

BRCC competed against Bridgewater College in the morning.

Teshome Molalenge, the director for the office of sustainability at Bridgewater College, said the college's goal is for students to become more engaged in their community.

"Our college deeply cares for our community, so that's the reason we are here today," said Molalenge.

The apples picked in the challenge are going to be served in the mobile food pantry, which serve more than 3,000 families in remote areas.

"Anything that we can do here on sight that they don't have to do at the mobile just helps them get everything set up quicker and they can start serving the families even faster," said Robertson.

The school that packed the most bushels of apples will receive a "Hunger Hero Champion" trophy at the Empty Bowl Dinner on Thursday, which raises money and awareness for the Symposium.