CEDAR CITY, Utah (ABC4 Utah) The “starving college student” is often more than a stereotype, as tuition and fees rise for higher education. 

As Utah universities address students’ inability to buy food, the state’s first college food pantry continues to serve low-income young adults. 

“You never realize how much things cost at college. From a book that you think is probably $10 is $250 and you didn’t expect it,” Briana Clements said.  

For Clements, finances were so tight in college, she couldn’t afford a trip to the grocery store. 

“You feel a little bit embarrassed, like, I can’t really find the means to afford food,” Clements said.  

The Southern Utah University nursing student relied on the university’s HOPE Pantry during the slimmest months. It was the first of its kind in the state, offering food no questions asked for 13 years. 

“Whatever you need, you can take,” Clements said. 

“Students are often making tough choices about, ‘Do I buy that textbook I really need or do I buy groceries for the month,” SUU Community Engagement Center Associate Director Pam Branin said. 

Between the food pantry and weekly bread giveaways, around 400 food insecure students are helped each month at SUU.

“Iron County has the second highest poverty rate of counties in Utah and we know that issues like that play out in our population,” Branin said. 

While she no longer relies on it, Clements now volunteers at the pantry to give back to the organization that helped get her through a hard time. 

University of Utah, Utah State, Weber State and Dixie State have also created food pantries for students..