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Published January 06, 2012, 07:27 PM

Food Stamp Use Declining in ND

GRAND FORKS (WDAZ-TV) - Food stamp usage is on the decline in North Dakota. The number of people using food stamps to buy groceries dropped two percent the last month of 2011.

GRAND FORKS (WDAZ-TV) - Food stamp usage is on the decline in North Dakota.

The number of people using food stamps to buy groceries dropped two percent the last month of 2011.

Two years ago the Grand Forks County Social Services office had to add extra staff because the demand for stamps was too high, but now it's a different story.

"For three years, our case load was increasing tremendously and we had trouble keeping up with that," Social Services assistant director Ed Christ said.

Increasing because people were moving to North Dakota due to its booming economy.

"Hearing the economy was good in North Dakota and coming here looking for jobs and I think that's maybe slowed down a little bit now. I think they're probably a lot more going to the western part of the state, I think we're not seeing as many here," Christ said.

They aren't seeing as many and its harder to tell considering social services has done away with food stamps for a more modern look, just like a credit card.

"It's kind of hard to tell because everything is credit card now but it appears to be similar if not slightly down," Super One Foods general manager Bryan Halvorson said.

They're called EBT cards and you can use them for more than just food. A little less than 6,00 Grand Forks residents use the card, and the amount each family is given varies on income and the number of people per household. Users say a little goes a long way.

"Oh yeah, it helps them out. You know whatever they're getting, they can use that money for other things, you know we hear stories about elderly not being able to get medicine or other things so it frees up money for other necessities," Christ said.

"It just simplifies it. It works just like a credit card, it's really actually very convenient," Halvorson said.

Convenient because you can also use the card in other states and pretty much everyone that handles food accepts EBT cards.

"The fact that it's leveled off, giving us a change to catch up and catch our breath," Christ said.

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