Idaho State University has a high population of non-traditional students, along with young students getting married and having kids while still in school. That can make things tough on the families paying for tuition, bills and child-related expenses. So ISU has opened a new service for students to help with basic food needs.
Benny's Pantry is specifically for ISU students, faculty and staff.
"The last thing we want is a student having to attend school without the nutrition they need to concentrate and learn," said Dr. Laura Vailas, ISU's First Lady and a registered dietitian. "That's a barrier to success, and one of the things we want is for our students to succeed."
Anybody with a current Bengal ID may shop through the pantry's variety of boxed goods, canned goods and baby food. They are also going to provide toiletries and other non-food items.
"Any student will tell you funds are usually tight while they're in school," said Jenny Brooks, Benny's Pantry student manager. "Most students have to sacrifice quite a bit to pursue their education. So the pantry kind of fits in where they may need a little bit of extra help to get enough nutritious and safe food during the month."
The pantry is available for anyone to use twice a month, and each person has a specific amount they can get based on household size. It's also anonymous, so students only give their Bengal ID to keep track of the number of visits.
Benny's Pantry will officially open for business Monday, Jan. 20. ISU says they decided to open that day because Martin Luther Kind Jr. Day is known as a day of service. As a dietitian student, Brooks also said this gives her an opportunity to serve her community.
"I care a lot about helping ISU students, and I feel like this is a good opportunity to organize a cool project to get students some volunteer experience and make a difference right here in the community."
This is the first food pantry of its kind in the state. For more information, ISU has a website for Benny's Pantry which will become active on Monday, Jan. 20. www.isu.edu/pantry.