College food pantries fight rising food insecurity

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COLUMBIA — This holiday season, many people will find it appropriate to donate to charities like food banks, but there’s one group that some people tend to leave out.

A report by several college organizations shows that food insecurity of college students is increasing. According to the report, 48 percent of students reported food insecurity in the previous 30 days.

According to the Missouri Foundation for Health, food insecurity rates have risen in Missouri for the last 10 years. Missouri is the sixth least food secure state in the country and has the second highest hunger rate after Arkansas.

With food insecurity on the rise, the number of college food pantries is also increasing. The College and University Food Bank Alliance, a national organization that aims to support campus food banks, reported Friday that it reached 400 members last week and it now has 411.

Tiger Pantry, the University of Missouri’s student-run food bank, was founded in 2012 to assist students, faculty and staff experiencing food insecurity. Marketing coordinator Caela Ancona said some people don’t even know if they can use the pantry’s services.

“A lot of the times, people don’t necessarily understand what food insecurity is,” she said. “You could be food insecure and you might not even know it.”

She said Tiger Pantry was started with Missouri’s hunger rate in mind and it strives to be a resource for anyone who can’t access food for any reason.

Most of Tiger Pantry’s food comes from food donations, and during the holiday season, the pantry focuses on food drives all across campus to obtain food.

It’s also an agent of the Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri, meaning it can share food if the pantry is running low, and it receives some money from donors.