POCATELLO — Idaho State University’s Benny’s Pantry, with locations in Pocatello, Meridian and Idaho Falls — has received a $10,000 donation from the Albertsons Companies Nourishing Neighbors Program that will help approximately 400 ISU students and their families.
The $10,000 will provide approximately an academic year's worth of food for the pantries. Benny's Pantry program will be able to provide food relief for students over the next year because of this grant and other donations. The pantries run completely on donations to purchase food and hygiene items.
“With the recent economic downturn caused by COVID-19, there has been a dramatic increase in requests for food from our students,” said Stephanie Foreman, student care and assistance coordinator for the ISU Office of Student Affairs. “We are extremely grateful for this support from the Albertsons Companies Nourishing Neighbors Program. This grant assures that we can take care of members of the Bengal family that are in need.”
The Benny's Pantry food pantry spaces are all established and run by student volunteers and a few staff members who spend part of their time managing the pantries. The distribution system for students is already in place. While campuses are currently closed, students are still being assisted at the three pantry locations through appointments.
“We recognize that poverty is often a barrier for students who are striving to obtain a certification or degree in higher education,” Foreman said. “One of the many hardships associated with poverty is food insecurity — the lack of access to enough safe and nutritious food. We believe that by alleviating food insecurity where it may exist, we empower our student community to focus on learning and discovery, thereby removing a significant barrier to persistence.”
At Idaho State University, more than 60 percent of students have high levels of financial need. Benny’s Pantry opened in Pocatello in January 2014 as an initiative of the student affairs department and was the state of Idaho’s first college or university food pantry. Additional locations were opened on the Idaho Falls campus in 2016 and the Meridian campus in 2019. The pantry offers free, emergency food assistance directly to the Idaho State University community.
“This worldwide pandemic has only heightened this issue of food insecurity, as many Idaho State students support themselves and their families through part-time jobs that have been eliminated during the crisis,” said Ryan Gerulf, director of development for the ISU Kasiska College of Health Sciences, who wrote the grant proposal to Albertsons.
For more information on Benny’s Pantry or how to donate, visit isu.edu/pantry or call 208-282-2794.