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Department of Communication Opens ‘Stop-Gap’ Food Pantry for Students

Plans for a university-wide food pantry are in the works. But until that happens, students and faculty in the Department of Communication have come up with their own solution, a small pantry called the Snack Shack in the department’s faculty lounge.

Faculty and students take inventory at the Snack Shack, a small food pantry on campus at Boise State University.
Marisa Hill (left) and Jana Hockersmith, a lecturer and student in Boise State’s Department of Communication, respectively, take inventory for the Snack Shack, a grassroots food pantry they helped create in the communication faculty lounge. Photo Patrick Sweeney

The Snack Shack opened just before Thanksgiving. It consists of two large bookshelves filled with donated food. Students can pick up cans of soup, granola bars, jars of spaghetti sauce and more, no questions asked. The only requirement is filling out a short anonymous survey so organizers can get a sense of who is using the service. More than 15 students have visited so far, said Jana Hockersmith, a senior majoring in communication.

Hockersmith co-founded the Snack Shack with Rebecca Robideaux Tiedge, a lecturer in the department, after Hockersmith conducted a survey that found eight out of 10 students worried about being able to afford food on a monthly basis. A study this year by the Idaho Policy Institute found more than 40 percent of Boise State students have experienced some form of food insecurity, or not knowing where their next meal will come from, during their time on campus.

“Once the idea was out there, people realized this was an issue,” said Hockersmith.

The Snack Shack has a predecessor, The Horse Bit Student Pantry, a food pantry for students, faculty and staff. It opened in 2012 and provides food at Paul’s Catholic Student Center and at the Euclid Avenue Church of the Nazarene.

The Associated Students of Boise State University is also focusing on the hunger issue. Its recent campaign through Boise State’s PonyUp crowdfunding platform raised $7,685 for on-campus “food cupboards.” The project, renamed “Full Broncos,” will offer food at 12 locations throughout campus. The cupboards will be stocked with healthy meal kits and snacks developed by on-campus dietician Marlee Harris.

ASBSU President Sienna George said the group hopes to have the 12 cupboards open by mid-February. Each also will include basic school supplies, George said.

Shelves of food at the Snack Shack at Boise State University.
Snack Shack food pantry in the Communication Building. Photo Patrick Sweeney

Once the food cupboards are up and running, the Snack Shack could become one location for a cupboard, said Hockersmith.

She and other organizers, including Marisa Hill, a lecturer in the department, have spread the word about the Snack Shack through table tents, fliers and the department’s Facebook page.

The department is looking at other ways to promote health and food security on campus. Plans include turning a grassy slope east of the communication office into a community garden.

The Snack Shack is in the Communication Building, Room 132. Hours will be posted on the door and on the department’s Facebook page. Organizers welcome donations. Email Rebecca Robideaux Tiedge at if you’d like to help, or get more information.