Rising consumer prices are forcing more Alabamians to turn for help to feed their families.
That help is coming in the form of food stamps.
The food stamp program has evolved over the years.
As the tender has changed from coupons to debit cards, so has the need for assistance.
State records show the number of people receiving food assistance in Alabama increased by six percent from May 2007 to May 2008. A total of 541,000 people statewide are getting help feeding their families.
Here in Houston County, more than 5000 families are receiving benefits from the program.
That is up nine percent from last year.
Mary Paulk, director of the Dept. of Human Resources said, “There has been a significant national outreach to get the information out regarding the food stamp program. Also, the fact that gas increases, food increases; the price increases you know, the economy overall.”
People who traditionally would not ask for help are seeking assistance.
“We see more people coming in who are not eligible, just right on the margin, because we realize there is a real pinch on their income,” Paulk added.
Soon to be single mom Anesha Hill says she will need all the help she can get when her baby comes. “With the price of food and gas going up, it's helping me put groceries on my table.”
Every year, the program is reviewed and this year is no exception.
Officials say the benefit level and types of deductions will soon be increasing, which will allow more people to be eligible for assistance in the fall.
For more information about the food assistance program, log onto the Department of Human Resources website at: www.dhr.alabama.gov.
Houston County residents can call 334-677-0475.