04/10/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

College Food Banks See Increase In Student Needs

Michigan State University's Olin Health Center is a student-run food bank, providing relief to students struggling with higher tuition costs and living expenses. The center has seen a 25% increase in usage since the 2007-08 school year.

Christa Graban in the Detroit Free Press reports on how the economy affects those at all levels.

In three bags, [student Nichole] Wickens carries away boxes of instant mashed potatoes and dried pasta, a loaf of bakery bread, applesauce and a box of shredded wheat cereal. At retail, it's only worth about $20 -- but it makes a big difference to Wickens.

"My student account was in stocks, and stocks were hit hard," Wickens said. "And I'm the oldest of five." She has a part-time job on campus as a night receptionist, and gets some financial aid for tuition. "But I'm paying for a car, phone, computer, rent and everything else," she said, "so coming here really helps. It's a resource to students."

It's not just an issue in Michigan. Food banks across the country have reported increased traffic, even as the economy shows subtle signs of improving. Nearly one in 10 Massachusetts residents visited a food bank in 2009. That number is one in eight in places like Fort Worth, Texas, and Greensboro, North Carolina.