“It’s scary to not have food at home, or not to not have enough, or to not have what you need,” said Brianna. “We use the school pantry. I can go in and tell my counselor that we are having trouble getting food.”

At the school pantry, Brianna can get things like cereal, fruit, meat, and other things that help her and her family out. A couple of times, she said, her counselor has provided her with big boxes full of food to take home to her family.

When Brianna’s family didn’t need as much, her counselor provided her with a more discreet backpack full of things to take home to her family. In addition to food, this gave Brianna a new backpack and school supplies.

Brianna’s school pantry also allows her to have access to things that they could not purchase through SNAP – items like shampoos and conditioners, toothpaste, and school supplies.

Not only does Brianna use the food pantry, she volunteers there in her spare time.

“It makes me feel better about having these people who are willing to give all of this money, time and food,” she said. “Being able to make sure that it’s maintained, and making sure that I am doing what I can to give back to them is important to me. There’s no way I could ever say thank you enough for everything that they give us and so many other families here.”

Brianna is a senior and plans to attend Iowa State next year to major in either chemistry or chemical engineering. “I will come home on the weekends and on breaks to work here in town and help my family as much as I possibly can,” she said.

About the artist

Jennifer Leatherby is a painter, illustrator, and digital artist. She lives and works in Des Moines, Iowa where she co-owns Portrait Studio and a feminist t-shirt brand. She is inspired by minimalism and the digital age. Learn more at www.jenleatherby.com.