BOISE, Idaho — Prior to the Boise State football game against BYU on Saturday, groups from both schools will be hosting a food drive to collect items for Boise State's Campus Food Pantry. Roughly a third of all college students face food insecurity, and the Campus Food Pantry tries to fight that. They provide free meals, food, snacks, and hygiene products for Boise State students.
“Students are struggling just like everybody’s struggling right now," said Michelle Cain, the student basic needs case manager. "With high food costs, high gas prices, housing costs, they’re all struggling all the same and these programs for basic needs are so instrumental for their success.”
The pantry, which was originally created in 2018 by the BSU student government, has seen a huge change. It started in a storage closet and now is housed in a big room that resembles a small grocery store.
The infrastructure isn't the only thing that's grown. In September alone, the pantry saw over 4,000 visits.
"That was the largest number we’ve had," said Audrey Thompson, a BSU junior who works at the pantry. "When I started working here it was like 200 student visits. So, just seeing the growth and the students excited about using their resources I think is a great way to break down that stigma”
That stigma Thompson talks about can sometimes make students not seek the help they need. While the pantry works to support the students, they are trying to break down the stigma at the same time.
Something that helps with this is public food drives. They help get the word out about the benefits of using the food pantry.
There are two locations to drop off food. Boise State is hosting a food drive at the Ford Fan Zone on the southwest side of Albertsons Stadium. Fans are encouraged to bring canned and non-perishable items to the drive.
The other location is hosted by the BYU alumni group of Boise. They aren't letting the rivalry get in the way of helping out the pantry. Their food drive will be at 1925 S. Broadway Ave. at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints meetinghouse.
“Even though it is a Rivalry game I think BYU fans have a ton of respect for Boise State," said TJ Bliss, a former Chair of the Alumni Group. "Boise State has done things that no other football team has done outside the Power 5, so we just want to help and I think it’s going to be a great opportunity to do that.”
Here is a map of where you can donate food:
Both locations are collecting food until the game starts at 5 p.m. MT.
If you will not be attending the game, the Campus Food Pantry accepts donations directly. You can find out how to help on their website.