Despite economy, food stamp use still high

ALBERT LEA, Minn. – While the economy seems to be on the upswing, many in our area are still relying on food stamps to feed their families.

In Minnesota alone, more than 500,000 use the stamps. That is more than double what it was just a decade ago.

This time of year more families are using local food shelves because their kids are out of school and not getting those meals they would normally get.

Those in charge of the food shelves say an improving economy actually hurts them in some ways.

“The other side of it is, the economy appears to be getting better so people may not be near as understanding or in our case financially generous, we’re having struggles trying to keep our programs going,” said Captain Jim Brickson with the Albert Lea Salvation Army.

The people using the shelves may not be benefiting from the recovery either.

“Part of what we might be seeing is, although the economy is rebounding, it still costs a lot more to live now in 2014 than it did even in 2008, so it’s not even a dependency for the people that are coming here,” Brickson said.

Like the Salvation Army, those at Freeborn County Human Services tell us they are still seeing steady numbers when it comes to people looking for help.

Minnesota’s enrollment in food stamps is down six percent in the last year, but state leaders say one reason could be a lack of publicity for the program.

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