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More Nevadans Turning to Food Stamps | Business

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More Nevadans Turning to Food Stamps

LAS VEGAS - The economy is taking its toll on many Americans. A record number of people are now seeking food stamp assistance. The need is also growing in Nevada. According to the national non-profit Food Research and Action Center, Nevada is seeing a huge jump in the number of people applying for food stamps.

Yvette Reid is one of those people. Out of work for nearly two years, Reid gets about $200 a month in food stamps. With a 16-year-old son at home, she says the extra money is the only way she's able to put food on the table. "When you are used to living one way and now you have to live another, you have to save and scrounge," she said. "Food stamps are just such a help. If it wasn't for that, I don't know how my family would eat."

Reid is one of thousands of Nevadans seeking help. Social service manager Rachelle Church says she sees 750 people a day in her office. Nearly half of them are looking for food stamps. "I've been here for 27 years, and I've never seen the volume like this," she said. "It's sad, because there are more individuals who need our assistance. But, that's what we are here for."

From February 2009 to 2010, Nevada experienced a 45% jump in food stamp applications. Nearly 266,000 people are taking part in the supplemental nutritional assistance program or SNAP. "As long as the unemployment rate is up, our SNAP rolls are going to grow," Church said.

Church says the state tries to get people back on their feet, so they can be self-sufficient. That could prove challenging, since the number of people in need is expected to grow for the next year and a half. "We are pretty successful even in this economy in helping folks move on, but there are always folks to take their place right now," Church said. Church says her department is hiring extra workers to handle the growing caseload.

Yvette Reid, meanwhile, will continue to rely on the food stamps until she can find work. "It helps. It really does. I'm telling you. I don't know what we would do without them," she said.

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