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TCC receives donation from UnitedHealthcare to support students in need

Tidewater Community College is the recipient of a $3,500 donation from UnitedHealthcare, which will help students facing food insecurity and other basic needs caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

UnitedHealthcare is one of the largest health care insurance providers in the United States.

The donation will be used to provide food, toiletries, formula and diapers for students in need through the Community Feed at TCC in Norfolk.

TCC and the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore partnered to open the food pantry in June of 2020.

“This sponsorship from UnitedHealthcare will provide for the basic needs for our students and their families,” said Jaedda Hall, program coordinator for intercultural learning and the Women’s Center. “The recent COVID-19 pandemic has only increased the needs of college students struggling to meet their basic needs.”

The Community Feed at TCC entrance.

The pantry, made possible thanks to funding from TowneBank, is located across from the Apple Store on the second level of MacArthur Center. The Community Feed distributes meal kits and other fresh food to students with a TCC ID, as well as community members in need. Meal kits must be ordered in advance online.

Addressing food insecurity and other obstacles that impede student success continue to be priorities of TCC.

Entrance of The Community Feed at TCC.

For information about the Community Feed at TCC and other support services available to TCC students during the pandemic, visit this resource page.


Founded in 1968, Tidewater Community College ( helps students of all ages and backgrounds achieve their educational and career goals. TCC is the largest provider of higher education and workforce solutions in southeastern Virginia, serving both students and local employers with in-demand academic and career programs. It is one of 23 schools that make up the Virginia Community College System.


UnitedHealthcare is dedicated to helping people live healthier lives and making the health system work better for everyone by simplifying the health care experience, meeting consumer health and wellness needs, and sustaining trusted relationships with care providers. In the United States, UnitedHealthcare offers the full spectrum of health benefit programs for individuals, employers, and Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, and contracts directly with more than 1.3 million physicians and care professionals, and 6,000 hospitals and other care facilities nationwide. The company also provides health benefits and delivers care to people through owned and operated health care facilities in South America. UnitedHealthcare is one of the businesses of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH), a diversified health care company. For more information, visit UnitedHealthcare at or follow @UHC on Twitter.

The Community Feed at TCC expands to serve all community members

It’s been six months since the opening of The Community Feed at TCC at MacArthur Center in Norfolk. The innovative pantry is located on the second level across from the Apple store.

So far, more than 20,295 meals have been distributed to TCC students facing food insecurity. And last month, the pantry opened to serve all community members in need.

The project is a partnership of Tidewater Community College and the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore.

Data released by the Hope Center for College, Community and Justice estimates that 48 percent of community college students face food insecurity. And the needs have increased with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fresh food for families and individuals

The Community Feed at TCC offers a selection of assorted pantry boxes, including shelf-stable items, as well as fresh fruits and vegetables, with ingredients designed to feed a family of four.

Information about ordering is available here. Food can be picked up by appointment only five days a week.

“The food always seemed to come right on time, and I was grateful to have the resource right near campus,” said student Renee Robinson. “There were meals and other produce items available every time. One week I was able to make eggplant parmesan and it was really good. I also make all kinds of salads with the fresh greens, onions, peppers, carrots and corn.”

Robinson added, “I appreciate that this service is here for us. We talk about it a lot among ourselves and are so grateful for the assistance. My family is eating good, quality food. What could be better than that?”

The overall vision of The Community Feed at TCC incorporates:

  • Connecting people with one another over quality food and conversation
  • Sharing resources that include recipe cards, books and wellness materials
  • Providing access to fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Workshops and learning sessions led by community partners on topics related to the root causes of food insecurity

Volunteers make a difference

The Community Feed is run by Foodbank staffers as well as volunteers that include faculty, staff, and students of TCC.

TCC staff member Chuck Thomas recalls a moment at the pantry that made him proud to be an employee of TCC.

“I saw a young couple with three toddlers come in to take advantage of the offerings. The father utilized the children’s play area while the mother shopped. She was able to get diapers, formula, toiletries, pre-packaged meals, and other items to feed her family,” said Thomas. “While she was there, we chatted about my experience of benefiting from food banks when I was young and the reason I was volunteering. Our conversation provided her comfort and brought tears to her eyes and she promised to pay it forward just as I was doing.”

Business Administration faculty member Kelly Gillerlain also volunteers at The Community Feed. “This is a great way to give back to our students,” she said. “It shows students we care about them and gives them additional support to succeed. I have also had the great honor to get to know some of my students outside the classroom.”

Raven Hayut, a TCC student ambassador, also serves regularly to complete volunteer hours for her scholarship. “This place has given me such a different perspective on what it means to help others and doing it in a way that you are surrounded by plenty of great people while serving.”

Initiative funded by TowneBank for five years

Thanks to a grant provided by TowneBank, the Foodbank will be able to launch additional campus-based pantries, as well as a targeted nutrition assistance program for students most at-risk of hunger. The total funds of $250,000 will be utilized to support this work over the course of five years, which will ultimately serve community members as well as thousands of students who are building upon their education to begin living wage careers.

The Campus-Based Pantry and Food Scholarship Program began in the fall of 2019 with pop-up pantries on the Norfolk and Portsmouth campuses. Pop-up pantries continue to be offered and have quickly became a lifeline for many students.

Learn more

More information about The Community Feed at TCC is available at  For questions, email Dean Thomas E. Chatman, Jr. or Dean Kerry Ragno.

Alumna gives back by designing The Community Feed at TCC

Step inside The Community Feed at TCC, and you feel welcomed. An inviting farmer’s market shows off the colors of the season — bright red apples and homegrown tomatoes make a splash alongside brilliant oranges and leafy greens. Ample seating encourages visitors to stay awhile and bask in the warm, engaging space on the second floor of MacArthur Center.

Credit TCC alumna Leisa Arrington for the beautiful touches. Arrington designed the campus-based pantry that offers healthy meal kits to the college’s students through a service that’s currently online only due to COVID-19. The initiative, a partnership between TCC and the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore, is meant to address food insecurity among students.

“I was truly honored to lend my skills to this project. I wanted this to be a re-imagined place of provision, guidance, healing and safety,” Arrington said.

At the front counter students can pick up preselected meal kits – offerings include pasta Bolognese and stuffed peppers and roasted asparagus — each designed to feed a family of four.

Arrington designed the space using elements of “modern rustic” and “industrial farmhouse” design styles. The open floor plan includes warm wooden cabinetry balanced with a consistent color palette of rich earth tones and textures. An eclectic selection of furniture and art pieces adds to the mix, inviting students to relax, rejuvenate and refresh.

“I was excited and on board with the project from day one,” Arrington said. “I saw this as my chance to bring people together and support them through those turbulent times in their lives.”

Arrington earned an Associate of Applied Science in Interior Design and a Career Studies Certificate in Acquisition and Procurement from the college.

She previously launched her own business, Proverbial Interior Design Solutions, in 1988. A skilled seamstress, she was taught the craft by her Aunt Mattie Jones at age 8. Arrington started her business making window treatments, bedding and slipcovers.

Today she provides complete interior design services for her clients, noting on her website, It’s all in the details.Especially when it comes to creating the room of your dreams.”

“The hands-on work and the class presentations at TCC based on real ‘clients’ were so beneficial,” Arrington said.

Arrington also found a mentor in Professor Lana Sapozhnikov.

“Ms. Lana was a tough teacher, which excited me about her,” Arrington said. “She constantly challenged us and raised the bar high. She instilled in all of her students the ideals, traits and knowledge necessary to become professional interior designers.”

TCC’s acquisition and procurement certificate helped her weather tough financial times. She learned how to land state and government contracts and navigate vendor systems for both Virginia and North Carolina.

“When business declined during the housing market recession in the late 2000s, I was able to earn contracts with Norfolk State and Old Dominion Universities,” she said. “That kept me going, as we were doing a variety of tasks from designing window treatments to cleaning chandeliers.”

A Christian and mother of five and grandmother of 14, Arrington is a proponent of community college, noting, “TCC was a great place to start and can provide the training for higher-paying technical jobs or launch you to a four-year school.”

More information about The Community Feed at TCC is available at here.  For questions, email Dean Thomas E. Chatman, Jr. or Dean Kerry Ragno.