James Sprunt Community College hosts food giveaway

DUPLIN COUNTY, NC (WITN) James Sprunt Community College in Duplin County is making an effort to ensure their students don't have to worry about coming to class hungry.

Apples, sweet potatoes, and collard greens, the produce that many people eat to maintain a healthy lifestyle, was given away for free Monday at the college.

Event organizer Amber Martinez says, "When you're hungry it's hard to concentrate. If you're not eating the right things, you're not going to be able to be your best, along with the fact that if you're struggling to figure out how to put food on your table, you're going to be preoccupied with that rather than focusing on your classes."

Experts say 28 percent of people Duplin County are living in poverty, and many parts of the county are food desserts, meaning the nearest store where someone can buy fresh fruits and vegetables is at least 20 miles away.

Student Chloie Elliot says, "It takes a while to get to the grocery store. Sometimes it's difficult because I stay with my grandparents, and they don't work a lot, so sometimes it can be hard to get different things."

Duplin Christian Ministries and the North Carolina Food Bank made it easy for these community college students to take home food. There was no application and it was on a first come, first serve basis.

Martinez says, "The more requirements you put on something like this, the less people are going to want to come."

Elliot says, "It feels better not having to fill out an application asking why, if it's financially a problem. Sometimes people might think they're being judged because of them not having enough money."

Alongside the food giveaway was information from local organizations, such as NC Works, Partnership for Children, domestic violence counseling options, and more.

Martinez says it all about "Making sure students have resources and benefits that can help them stay in school."

The food giveaway was organized by James Sprunt Community College's Single Stop Outreach Program, which has helped more than 500 students in the past 3 and a half years.