Food insecurity is a common problem among many college students across the country. The Boise State Office of the Dean of Students reopened the campus food pantry on Sept. 8.
The new expanded location will be in the former art gallery located in the campus school building. The Food Pantry hours will be Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
When the old pantry — located in the Dean of Students (DOS) — originally opened in the spring of 2017, they saw an uptick in students using the food pantry.
Lauren Oe, associate dean of students, said there were already talks about expanding the food pantry prior to the COVID-19 campus shutdown and the physical distancing measures enacted on campus.
“After the university closed in March, we had to really rethink about making a transition sooner than later, we worked really closely with our planning and facilities folks on securing a space in the campus school,” Oe said.
The space now allows for proper COVID-19 physical distancing measures. Oe understands that many students are struggling with the impact of COVID-19 and hopes the pantry can be a helpful resource.
“We know that right now a lot of students are struggling with the impact of COVID-19 and the impact on a lot of industries that students find themselves [working] in as they’re going to college,” Oe said. “It’s an exciting time to be able to help students.”
Oe emphasized the importance of seeking help when needed and understands some students may feel shame in utilizing the tools and help they need.
“We did a survey back in 2018, and 37% of the students who responded said they were at a higher level of food insecurity, so you’re not alone,” Oe said. “There’s so much research on neuroscience and the brain and when we’re hungry we can’t concentrate and learn, it’s here for a reason.”
Yanire Connor, a junior psychology and premed major, appreciates that Boise State is providing these resources to students.
“I know a lot of people that have been laid off from their jobs and lots of people who can’t even afford to go to college right now,” Connor said. “The idea of expanding it and making it more accessible to students right now is so crucial.”
Connor believes a lot more students are food insecure but stay silent on the issue and how society can make us not reach out when in need.
“With an issue like this you may not see it in front of you all the time, but I feel like it’s something that a lot of people struggle with silently,” Connor said. “For the university to hone in on this and use their resources I think it’s incredible.”
Resource is the word Oe wants students to remember when they feel the need to seek services from the food pantry.
“The university would not have invested in this if they didn’t want to provide it for students, so it’s here for all students,” Oe said. “It’s meant to be a resource much like advising, tutoring or the REC center, if you can see it as a resource in that way, hopefully, that would help [students] want to come in.”