TWIN FALLS, Idaho — Between classes, deadlines, jobs and soaring rent prices across southern Idaho, college students have enough to worry about. Some, aren’t sure where their next meal is coming from. Now, more students at the College of Southern Idaho are looking to Gilbert’s Pantry for access to food.
Gilbert’s Pantry started in 2016, to provide an on-campus resource for CSI students facing food insecurity. The pantry also offers cleaning supplies and hygiene products as donations provide.
“It’s a way for the institution to be able to provide a service and a resource for students so they can really concentrate on their educational goals and not have to worry so much about where they are going to find their next meal,” said Jason Ostrowski, dean of students at the College of Southern Idaho.
Before the pandemic, the pantry saw two to three students per week. Now there around five to six students per week who utilize the pantry.
The increase in students using the pantry is being met with an increase in community support and donations. Students fill out a form disclosing any dietary restrictions and their household size. Then, they can pick up their food box once it’s ready. Students can pick up boxes twice a month. Each box is filled with two weeks worth of food.
Gilbert’s Pantry is now partnering with the Idaho Food Bank, which will allow them to expand the program.
“With the partnership with the Idaho Food Bank, this will allow us that continuation and sustainability of our program… throughout the year. We also received word that we are going to be receiving federal funding to purchase some freezer and refrigeration units,” said Ostrowski.
This will allow for more options for students.
“What it means for us, is more food on campus more food in the community and we were super excited about Gilberts Pantry expanding. I know that’s in their future plans, because when you have refrigerators and you have freezers, as well as the dry goods shelving, you’re able to bring in a variety of nutritious and culturally diverse foods that can really meet the community’s expectations and needs,” said Jaime Hansen, director of programs and partnerships for the Idaho Food Bank.
According to Feeding America’s Map The Meal Gap’s annual report in 2021, a projected one in nine Idahoans may experience food insecurity.
“Our partnership means that we are able to bring a delivery down to the Magic Valley area twice a month at minimum. We could bring in fresh, frozen and dry goods that then can supplement the already existing donations from the community and expand the impact even further,” said Hansen
Gilbert’s Pantry continues to grow with support from local Magic Valley businesses and donations from the community, in addition to its new partnership.
Donations can be dropped off at the Office of Student Affairs, Student Union Building on the 2nd floor. For more information, visit the Gilbert’s Pantry website.
If you are experiencing food insecurity and are looking for resources, visit the Idaho Food Bank Food Map Locator.