Two high school students open food pantry to help their classmates in need
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BLACKFOOT — Most high school seniors long for graduation day, but two Blackfoot students are embracing the last few months of high school by doing something that’ll help students for years to come.
Gabriella “Gaby” Bobadilla and Dayana Medellin opened the Bronco Food and Hygiene Pantry at their school last week to help students in need.
“We talked to the counselors to see if they thought it was a good idea and if it was possible,” Bobadilla recalls. “They said it was a great idea and there are students in need.”
The Blackfoot High School counseling center was already operating a hygiene pantry, but the two seniors wanted to add healthy food items to the pantry for students to pick up before, during or after school.
Bobadilla and Medellin are involved in a student organization called Family, Career and Community Leaders of America. Their advisor Tamara Luker came up with the idea of starting a food pantry after learning the school didn’t have one.
Luker passed the idea along to Bobadilla and Medellin and they decided to make it their senior project. Bobadilla and Medellin will be presenting their project for the FCCLA district competition on Feb. 11. If they win, they’ll advance to state with a shot of going to nationals.
Luker reached out to Michelle Murphy, Community Nutrition Advisor with Eat Smart Idaho. She asked if she could help get the food pantry up and running because McMurphy has experience working with food pantries in eastern Idaho.
Murphy met with Bobadilla and Medellin to plan a food drive.
The two seniors, along with others involved with FCCLA, spent two hours standing outside of grocery stores in Blackfoot passing out donation flyers. They received food, money and gift cards to purchase items.
“It’s neat when the younger kids have a vision and want to reach out and help their fellow students,” McMurphy said. “That was really exciting to get to help them do that.”
McMurphy is also creating basic recipes that will be available at the pantry so students know what items to grab to make a healthy meal.
The pantry is located inside the counseling center. Students are encouraged to grab a plastic bag that can be found near the pantry shelves or they can put food items in their backpack.
“People can go in whenever they want to for whatever they need (no questions asked),” Medellin said.
“One of my biggest concerns was that people were going to be too scared or ashamed to go and get (items),” Bobadilla said. “I hope people don’t feel ashamed to get what they need if they need it.”
The pantry will be handed down to FCCLA seniors after Bobadilla and Medellin graduate, according to Luker.
They welcome donations from the public. For more information, contact Luker at firstname.lastname@example.org.