Many charities around the Treasure Valley are dedicated to making sure no one goes without a meal this holiday season, but one special food pantry in Boise is designed for those sometimes left out of the equation: college students.
"One student said that because money was so tight for them, they'd be in class and their stomach would be growling and they couldn't pay attention to what the professor was saying,” says Teresa DeVino, director of The Horse Bit Student Pantry. “They said, ‘You know, it's really hard to concentrate when your stomach is talking louder than your professor’.”
DeVino helped establish The Horse Bit in 2012 with the assistance of Boise State Campus Ministry programs.
"Students are so stressed that food is not the one thing that is on their minds," she says.
Student struggling to make ends meet after paying tuition often don’t qualify for food stamps or other assistance programs.
“If they go on the food stamps, the minute they take an internship or any type of low paying job on campus, it cuts their food supply,” Devino says.
Even with a campus meal plan, students might not be able to keep their shelves stocked during weekends or school breaks.
"This gives them a chance to have a stash, whether it's in a dorm room or in an apartment…they can provide themselves with something to eat during those down times," Devino says.
The pantry provides college staples like macaroni and cheese and Ramen Noodles and also stocks essientials for daily living like toothpaste and hygiene items.
"Everything we have in here including spaghetti and pasta and all that stuff can be cooked in a microwave,” DeVino says. “So we just tell them how to do it, and they're like, 'Woah!', and it opens up a whole new door for them."
Since The Horse Bit is not operated or sponsored by the university itself, the pantry relies entirely on donations from the community.
"It gives [students] a chance to think about things that happened to them during this time, then, [in the future] they'll be in a position to give back to the community in the way that the community had helped them," DeVino says.
The Horse Bit is open to all students, faculty and staff, not only at Boise State, but from all colleges and universities in the Treasure Valley.