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Many hungry for food assistance

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With more people out of work, thousands are asking the Department of Social Services for help paying their grocery bills.

New Hanover County DSS says they get an average of 60 new applications for food assistance each day. Given the lagging economy no one seems surprised by the big increases.

“It helps out people, so I wouldn’t be shocked if a lot of people come down here and get food stamps,” said Latresc Williams.

With a struggling economy and unemployment hovering in the double digits more and more people are asking for food stamps. At the New Hanover and Brunswick County Departments of Social Services, the applications increased more than 25 percent from last year. “We know that the need is there so we try to process them as quickly as possible,” said Mary John Brantley.

Brantley runs the food and nutrition services program for New Hanover County. She says new Hanover County Social Services recently received 81 applications in one day.

Individual case workers oversee almost seven hundred cases each. “I’ve never seen the case loads that large, no sir,” Brantley said. “The pressure is on to get the cases processed.”

Making things even harder, DSS is working with a reduced staff thanks to layoffs, but those receiving benefits say DSS continues to meet the demand in a timely manner.

“It works pretty good. They’re pretty fast paced and just willing to get you in and get you right back out,” Williams said.

Individual benefits range from ten to three hundred dollars per month. Regardless of how much they receive, those getting the benefits say they couldn’t imagine trying to get by without the help.

“I would be in a worse predicament, trying to find money for me and my kids to eat,” Williams said.

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With more people out of work, thousands are asking the Department of Social Services for help paying their grocery bills.

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