Students look for more resourceful ways to eat

During economic hardship, food bank needs are on the rise

By Laura Croft |

This year food prices have increased five percent, the highest increase in almost 20 years according to the United States Department of Agriculture’s consumer price index.

The combination of the tanking economy and high gas prices has put a strain on many Americans.

Many of the people who are struggling are students, and an increasing number of college students around the country have been visiting food banks.

Food assistance is on the rise. Food banks in Northeast Florida have also had an increase in requests for assistance.

Larry Dillahay, Program Manager of the Salvation Army Food Bank in St. Augustine, said that there has been a 25 to 30 percent increase in local food assistance.

The food bank is not open to the public.

The organization collects donations and either gives away or sells — at 18 cents per pound — food to 42 charitable agencies around St. John’s, Putnam and Flagler Counties.

The hungry go to the agencies, which include church pantries, soup kitchens and emergency shelters to get the food at no cost.

The Salvation Army Food Bank is the only one in the Southeast and there are two others in the country.

Dillahay isn’t sure how many of the people seeking food are students, but he suspects that many are.

Tom Strother, Communications Manager of the Second Harvest Food Bank of North Florida in Jacksonville, has a similar answer.

Their organization also delivers food to member agencies, including the Salvation Army and I.M Sulzbacher Center for the homeless.

He said it is hard to say how many of the people seeking food assistance are students.

He also said there has been a 30 percent increase in people needing food in the Jacksonville area, but that they wouldn’t know if someone was a student or not.

Many national food banks have been experiencing lower donations with the rising number of food requests, and organizations cannot keep up with their demand.

Many people who used to donate food are now asking for it.

The Michigan State Food Bank is the only bank in the nation run by students for students, and has been in operation since 1993.

This year, the Michigan Bank’s traffic has increased 15 percent.

According to their Web site they serve over 4,000 clients and distribute about 38,000 pounds of food annually to students and their families.

Charitable donations from community members and organizations keep them in business.

Many of the students who need their assistance are graduate students with families of their own, but more undergraduate students have been seeking help.

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