Richmond-based company gives $15.5K grant to Campus Kitchen

Grant money will go toward backpack program and mobile food pantry

Elyse Ferris

This fall, Washington and Lee’s Campus Kitchen program received a $15,500 grant from the Altria Companies Employee Community Fund (ACECF) to support its backpack program and mobile food pantry.

The Backpack Program supports nearly 700 children by allowing local students to take non-perishable food items home with them each weekend.

This program supported just one elementary school when it first launched in 2009, but has since increased its presence in other nearby schools. This fall, the ACECF grant helped the Backpack Program reach middle schools.

The W&L Campus Kitchen chapter typically receives between seven and ten grants per year, but this is its first from the ACECF.

The ACECF is a pool of funds raised by employees of Altria, a company based in Richmond, Virginia.

ACECF focuses on donating a lot of its funds to hunger relief and nutrition. Money raised by the ACECF directly supports nonprofits like Campus Kitchen in Illinois, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia and Washington, D.C.

In addition to grant support, Campus Kitchen’s annual budget is supported by allocations from the Executive Committee, the Friends of Rockbridge Endowment, the Shepherd Program, private donations and fundraising events.

Brandon Patterson, W&L’s Assistant Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations, applied for the grant on behalf of Campus Kitchen.

W&L’s Campus Kitchen, the ninth to join the national Campus Kitchens Project, celebrated its 10th anniversary in October.

The Kitchen supports over 1,000 clients in the Rockbridge area with its Backpack Program, Mobile Food Pantry and prepared meals.

W&L Co-curricular Service Coordinator Jenny Davidson coordinates and advises the Campus Kitchen.

“[The Backpack Program] has expanded, and we’re now in all the area elementary schools, head start programs, a couple of other private preschools, and we’re now serving sixth graders at the middle schools,” Davidson said.

The Mobile Food Pantry, which launched in 2015 to serve clients in rural communities for whom transportation is a barrier, is also growing.