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Pay It Forward: Benny’s Pantry

Bennys Pantry
Todd Kunz
Benny's Pantry is a small food bank for students, faculty, and staff on the campus of Idaho State University. There are also locations on the Idaho Falls and Meridian campuses.
Bennys Pantry shelves
Todd Kunz
Benny's Pantry is a small food bank for students, faculty, and staff on the campus of Idaho State University. There are also locations on the Idaho Falls and Meridian campuses.

IDAHO STATE UNIV., POCATELLO, Idaho - Most universities don't have their own food pantry for those in need, but Eyewitness News 3 anchor Todd Kunz found one.

We're coming up on the holiday season, when food bank supplies tend to run tight, unless people help. So we wanted to Pay It Forward to this one.

Benny's Pantry can be found on the Idaho State University campus in Pocatello. It has been around since January 2014. You don't often think of a university with its own pantry for those in need.

"We were definitely the first one in the state of Idaho, but we were on the front end of the curve nationwide," said Craig Chatriand, Assistant Vice President and Dean of Students.

Chatriand said any ISU student, faculty, or staff member can shop at Benny's Pantry when funds get tight and food gets low.

"One of the challenges that our students face is paying for college. We know a lot of our students work one, two, sometime three jobs. And we know that food insecurity is something that prevents students from persisting in reaching their educational goals," he said.

Chatriand said Benny's Pantry has about 100 to 125 shoppers per month, which is actually about 150 people because many of the students are married or have more than one person in their household. He said about 2,000 pounds of food went out the door during the month of October. Most of that food comes from various food drives on and off campus and donations from the community. A new addition within the last year is a donated commercial grade refrigerator and a freezer.

"Frozen meats, fresh vegetables, fresh fruits, that's made a big difference. And those are always some of the first things to go," said Chatriand, as he opened the door the freezer.

Chatriand said Benny's Pantry always sees more of a need as the holidays approach, and toward the end of the semester, when students begin to run out of financial aid.

"If we can provide a means for students to take some of that load off, we're happy to do that. And that's really where benny's pantry came from," said Chatriand.

So let's help them provide a means. It's time to Pay It Forward.

"Hello. How are you? said Chatriand, as a man walked in and closed the door.

"Are you Craig and Patty?" asked the man.

"Yes," said Paddy Sant, a management assistant, who was in the room.

"Yes," said Chatriand.

"How are you? I'm Kory (Carling). I'm with Mountain America Credit Union," said the man.

"Oh," said Sant.

"Oh! Nice to meet you Kory," said Chatriand.

"Nice to meet you guys. And I heard what you're doing for the students and also for our community. And so we're here today to Pay It Forward," said Carling.

"Oh wow! said Sant.

"So I've brought with me today $500 in cash that we'd like to Pay It Forward to you guys to continue to help support the students here at ISU and also our community. And so on behalf of Mountain America Credit Union, we'd like to Pay It Forward.

"Thanks you so much Kory. And thank you so much Mountain America. This will go such a long ways as we move into the holiday season for our students. Thank you. Thank you so much," said Chatriand.

As for Benny's Pantry needs, the staff is looking for fresh fruits and vegetable, and meats. They will always take the mainstay canned goods. And toiletries and personal hygiene items are always useful.

If you are an ISU student, faculty, or staff member in need of food assistance, contact the Dean of Students office.

Benny's Pantry is open Monday - noon to 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., Wednesday - 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., Thursdays - noon to 2 p.m. The phone number is 208-282-4110. It is located in the bottom of the Pond Student Union Building, next to the gaming center and the pool tables.

Benny's also has a pantry on the Idaho Falls and Meridian campuses.

"Pay It Forward" airs the second Wednesday of every month. If you know of a nonprofit organization or someone who deserves to be recognized for their contributions to the area, click on "News" then "Pay It Forward" under the menu stack at the top left of our homepage. Fill out the submission form, or send an email to Eyewitness News 3 anchor Todd Kunz at todd.kunz@news3now.com.

Todd Kunz

Todd Kunz

Todd is an anchor for KIDK Eyewitness News 3, Local News 8 and Fox 5.

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