Melissa Spangler doesn’t have much free time. As a full-time student in Virginia Western’s Phlebotomy program, she carries a heavy load of classes that include labs and clinicals. She also works part-time on campus, and cares for her young grandson. 

With that schedule and a limited income, finding time and food to cook is a challenge. The Virginia Western Student Co-Op, fueled by Kroger has helped her get through this strange semester with one less burden. She typically visits the Co-op every other week, and is able to get both snacks and staples to throw together easy meals. 

“It’s nice that the College takes the time to care and help us all, especially during these times as busy and hard it is for everyone during this COVID-19 era,” Spangler said. 

Melissa Spangler

Like many other services, the pandemic forced the Co-op, which opened in fall 2019, to make some adjustments with students not on campus and to follow COVID-19 safety guidelines. Students can visit the Co-op by appointment only, allowing for limited contact with others, while still meeting food assistance needs. 

This year, students are visiting the Co-op once a week, on average; last year, they visited multiple times within a week. With reduced frequency, the students tend to get more food per visit, and they don’t seem to mind the adjustments, according to Natasha Lee, Student Activities Coordinator. 

“This ends up being more efficient and less time-consuming for most students, and they use less gas money not having to come to campus multiple times a week,” Lee said. 

As the pandemic continues, basic needs for students are increasing. Food security is considered a basic need, and when it goes unmet, a student’s chance to succeed in the classroom is jeopardized. The combined donation of $20,000 from Kroger and Kraft Heinz will certainly help continue the essential service the Co-op provides to students.

“These days and times are hard for everyone, so I hope others take advantage of this gift the college has provided, and no one be scared or ashamed to ever ask, accept or appreciate help of any kind,” Spangler said. 


Click here if you’d like to donate to the Virginia Western Student Co-op.

Or contact Amanda Mansfield, Philanthropy Director at the Virginia Western Community College Educational Foundation, at amansfield@virginiawestern.edu or (540) 857-6962.