Access to personal hygiene products, clothing and food is so basic to most people’s routines, they may take it for granted. For students living with financial or housing instability, however, staple items can be hard to procure. The Ames Community School District unveiled an innovative solution this month by opening Student Pantries at Ames Middle School and Ames High School.

District Homeless Liaison Sipele Quezada gave intern Jenna Lincoln, a senior at Iowa State University majoring in child adult and family services, the task of getting the pantries up and running.

“We were excited to announce the opening of the pantries because they’re available to any student in the District who has need,” Quezada said.

Lincoln said personal hygiene products and school supplies are the most sought-after items so far, because they’re high on the list of priorities for all students.

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Intern Jenna Lincoln adjusts the clothing rack at the Ames Middle School student pantry. Pantries opened at the high school and middle school this month to help students who need access to personal hygiene products, food, clothing and school supplies.

“It’s important for middle and high school students to be as well-groomed and fitted for school as their peers,” she said. “The pantries give them quick access and a bit of privacy in choosing items.”

Students may also collect non-perishable food items and even diapers to take home to their families, Lincoln said, thanks to generous donors such as Food Banks of Iowa, Duck Worth Wearing and The Loft.

A classroom that was formerly a computer lab hosts the pantry at the middle school, although the high school pantry is in a much smaller space due to the temporary constraints of construction in the school’s administrative wing.

“Both pantries look nice and they function well, thanks to lots of hard work by volunteers,” Lincoln said.

The Ames Middle School Builders Club and Cornerstone Church helped organize the middle school pantry, she said, and Ames High School’s Students Helping End Poverty and Hunger (SHEPH) Club helped set up the high school pantry.

The middle school pantry is open Tuesdays during lunch hours and 3:15-4 p.m. Thursdays. The middle school pantry is open during lunch hours and 3:05-4 p.m. Wednesdays.