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Boise State University Develops Resources for Food-Insecure Students

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Since Nov. 10, Room 132 in the Communication Building at Boise State University has been open for two hours on Friday afternoons to students with food insecurities. Called the Snack Shack, the resource was developed by the Communication Dept. to provide healthy snacks and canned goods for hungry students.

The idea came about when communication student Jana Hockersmith researched food insecurity on campus. Hockersmith surveyed 10 students and found eight of them struggled with food insecurity on a monthly basis.

After reading an Oct. 17 article in the university newspaper The Arbiter about student organizations working on opening a food pantry on campus, Rebecca Robideaux Tiedge, a Communications Dept. lecturer, turned to Hockersmith. When they learned getting the pantry up and running would take longer than expected, Hockersmith, Robideaux Tiedge and fellow department lecturer Marisa Hill teamed up with the Communications Dept. to create a way to temporarily fill the gap.

All of the food available in the Snack Shack is donated. By its second week, more than 200 items had been donated, and more than 15 students had used the resource.

"It's really been a neat project that shows how many people get involved at different levels. It was one of those efforts that was sort of effortless to start," Tiedge said.

The Snack Shack relies on the honor system but, more importantly, students who use it maintain their confidentiality. They aren't asked personal questions but are instead asked to provide some demographics so organizers can get a sense of how much need there is.

"You just have to trust that the people who need it, get it. If you start requiring people to prove it, that can make people shy away ... because there's a pretty big stigma with food insecurity," Hockersmith said.

The trio plans to keep the Snack Shack open until the food pantry is operational, and they hope both programs will help destigmatize food insecurity on campus.

"Boise State is the only university in Idaho that does not have a campuswide food pantry," Hockersmith said. "When compared to the University of Idaho or Idaho State University, we're really behind."

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