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Student-run food banks balloon

COLUMBIA, Mo. — Community food pantries run by students are on the increase at colleges across the nation, a sign of both the weak economy and a rise in student activism.

At the University of Missouri, students opened the Tiger Pantry near the campus in October. It has given free food to nearly 150 people and their families and an additional 100 people have expressed an interest. Food recipients include nearly three dozen graduate students and a similar number of university employees.

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Student organizers modeled the program on a similar effort at the University of Arkansas.

As a sanctioned organization, the Tiger Pantry receives some money from student fees but primarily relies on donated food. Students can drop off donations in large bins around campus, and the local food pantry provided 2,500 pounds of food.

The University of Mississippi and Auburn University are also starting campus food pantries, joining schools such as Central Florida, Georgia, Iowa State, Oregon State, and West Virginia. Organizers estimate that at least 20 schools have similar programs.

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