January 27, 2014 — Vol. 30 No. 3
A grand-opening ribbon-cutting for Benny's Pantry, an initiative within the Student Affairs division of Idaho State University to provide food for ISU students and faculty in need, was held Jan. 15 in the lower level of the ISU Pond Student Union.
Benny's Pantry opened Jan. 20 in the Pond Student Union Room 120 on the Pocatello campus.
The opening was well attended. The audience and speakers included a number of ISU officials and Associated Students of ISU President Matt Bloxham.
The pantry will distribute non-perishable foods in an effort to help relieve the food insecurity where it may exist in the ISU community. Food insecurity is defined as not having access to adequate nutritious food or not knowing if there will be adequate food for a next meal.
Jenny Brooks, student manager of Benny's Pantry, reported that in Idaho poverty affects one in six people and one in four children. Food insecurity affects 15 percent of the total population and 20 percent of children.
ISU First Lady Laura Vailas, a registered dietitian and expert in food insecurity, conceived the idea for the pantry. In October, Vailas spoke with Vice President for Student Affairs Patricia Terrell about starting a program. A committee was formed and ISU Student Affairs personnel began the process to create the pantry.
"Hunger and food insecurity are often invisible," Vailas said. "But we know there are students and staff who could use the help Benny's Pantry will provide. We don't want parents going hungry so their children can eat or anyone lacking adequate, wholesome food."
Vailas envisions Benny's Pantry to be an opportunity for dietetic students who may want to study it, do research and have their work published in a professional journal. She said she sees Benny's pantry as a wonderful opportunity for many ISU students.
Benny's Pantry will be managed by the Idaho State University LEAD Center for Orientation, Leadership and Service and staffed with trained volunteers. The Pantry is still looking for volunteers, groups or individuals. The first training session for volunteers is Jan. 29 from noon to 12:30 p.m.; anyone interested can contact Brooke Barber or Brooks in the LEAD Center at 282-2973 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Operational hours for spring semester 2014 are: Mondays noon-2 p.m. and 4-6 p.m.; Wednesdays 4-6 p.m.; and Fridays noon-2 p.m. During operational hours, clients may use their Bengal ID to shop the pantry without disclosing personal financial information.
Donations will be accepted during the operational hours of either Benny's Pantry or the Campus Connection desk inside the Pond Student Union. Donations of large quantities may be pre-arranged with the LEAD Center by contacting the center in advance. To make cash donations to the program contact the ISU Foundation at 208-282-3470.