Students from BYU-Idaho have been volunteering for three months in the Rexburg Monthly Mobile Pantry, a program organized by the Idaho Foodbank.
Jess Goudy, coordinator of the Rexburg Monthly Mobile Pantry, said the pantry always had the help of students from BYU-I but in the last three months, students presence and help have been much more consistent.
“Each month, it takes us anywhere from 50-70 volunteers to make the pantry run smoothly,” Goudy said. “With the help we are now getting from BYU-I, we have been fully staffed the last few months.”
Talmage Nielsen, a senior studying exercise physiology, is the person responsible for organizing the volunteers from BYU-I.
“I have been the manager of this group for a semester now, and I plan on continuing with it until I graduate,” Nielsen said. “A friend who works with the Student Services approached me looking for a manager for the Mobile Pantry, and I accepted.”
Nielsen said the amount of volunteers and people participating has improved since the beginning of the semester.
“I am responsible for finding volunteers, specifically from BYU-I,” Nielsen said. “This last month, we had 17 volunteers that we were able to take with us, which represented a huge improvement from past semesters.”
Idaho Foodbank is a nonprofit organization created in 1984. The Mobile Pantry is one of its programs to help the community of Idaho.
Idaho Foodbank programs are supported by donors, volunteers and nonprofit partners in the entire state, according to the Idaho Foodbank website.
The Mobile Pantry comes once a month to Rexburg with dry and frozen food and aims to help families in rural communities that might not have ideal access to food assistance, according to Idaho Foodbank website.
Goudy said the Rexburg Monthly Mobile Food Pantry has a Facebook group created to help communication among volunteers and people who get food. Anyone interested in the group, as much for volunteering as to receive food, can ask to join the Rexburg Monthly Mobile Food Pantry Facebook page.
Hunger in Idaho has increased, according to a research conducted in 2013 by Feeding America. Twenty one percent of the population in the state suffers from food insecurity, which means they are not sure if they are going to have regular meals every day.
People sometimes can go through an unexpected situation, such as disease or death, and need emergency help. Not everyone, though, is eligible for food stamps, according to the Idaho Foodbank website.
Goudy said the Mobile Pantry holds a rule that people do not have to qualify to get food. Anyone who shows up has the right of getting some food.
“Food insecurity happens, even here in Rexburg,” Goudy said. “I am personally grateful for the Idaho Foodbank.”
Nielsen said the program is for everyone, including students who do not have enough money for food.
“The more participants, the more food we can bring to our community,” Nielsen said.
According to the reports from the Mobile Pantry Facebook page referring to the month of June, 1,502 people received help from the Mobile Pantry and 88 volunteers helped organizing the donations.