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Published December 08, 2009, 10:36 PM

Food Stamp Use Rising

With the economy still struggling, especially around the holidays, people are paying closer attention to their budgets.

By: Christine Boggy, WDAZ

With the economy still struggling, especially around the holidays, people are paying closer attention to their budgets.

As they try to stay within their means, more people in North Dakota have turned to food stamps.

Nearly 26-thousand families in North Dakota have turned to social services for help.

This number is up from last year and it doesn't look as if the trend will be slowing down.

For the last two years the number of people looking for assistance has been steadily rising.

Ed Christ/Grand Forks County Social Services Assistant Director:"Part of it we're finding is that people around the country have been hearing that the economy is better in North Dakota so they come here looking for jobs, not having a lot of luck finding jobs, so they need to go on assistance."

With North Dakota no longer able to avoid the economic hard times, the number of people approved for assistance last month was up nearly ten thousand from two years ago. Of those fifty-eight thousand, six thousand live in Grand Forks County.

Christ: "In November we issued eight-hundred thousand dollars in food stamp benefits which is about two-hundred more than November of last year."

The program people refer to as food stamps is now known as SNAP or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and can be used to buy just about any grocery item except alcohol, tobacco and toiletries.

Christ: "We used a card, we don't use the stamps anymore and people can use those pretty much anywhere they buy groceries and the intent is for groceries to help with the cost of groceries."

The high number of request don't seem to be slowing down and at this point social services is doing what it can to help while waiting to see what happens with the economy.

Christ: "We're just kind of waiting and seeing we've been kind of amazed that it's increased as long as it has now because like I said it's been a couple of years and we wonder how long that can continue but we haven't seen any change in that trend yet."

Total dollars issued throughout North Dakota in November was just under eight million, which has doubled since 2007.

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