Increasing Need For Food AssistanceGrand Forks County has one of the highest rates in North Dakota of people using food assistance.
Grand Forks County has one of the highest rates in North Dakota of people using food assistance. County social services says they have seen a major increase of applications over the past few months.
The county has been seeing an increase in assistance users for the past two years. Social services says it has to do with the national economy and fewer high-paying jobs. A large amount of applications are coming in for the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program or SNAP. Nationally, between 2008 and 2009 there was a 18.7 percent increase in applications.
Ed Christ/Social Services Assistant Director: "We have been increasing a lot more than other counties west of here I think Cass has been seeing similar increases in Fargo."
Fifty-three thousand North Dakotans used the SNAP program last year. Twenty-six hundred of those people were from the grand forks area. They are not all who you would think.
Ed Christ/Social Services Assistant Director: "Were seeing a lot of intact families with both parents working we all so and we also take a lot of applications of single people."
Instead of food stamps, people are now given an EBT card. It's like a debit card that they can use anywhere that sells food.
Ed Christ/Social Services Assistant Director: "The payments are issued monthly and again based on family size and income then the family can use the EBT cards to the grocery store and basically anything they use in the grocery store not to eat there can be purchased with the EBT card."
The amount of money given is based on income, size of family and allowed expenses. Most families who are eligible don't apply.
Ed Christ/Social Services Assistant Director: "People are pretty independent and if they feel they can get by if they can and leave the benefits to somebody else."
Christ says, another reason there is an increase, is because there is more acceptance of the program and people don't see it as embarrassing anymore.