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More people applying for food stamps, new website helps to speed up process

News 12 This Morning / Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2011

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- The number of people applying for food stamps is increasing drastically in Richmond County.

For single mother Claudine Hall, paying the grocery bill is hard without a steady paycheck and three kids.

"It's difficult because I'm doing it by myself," Hall said.

About a year ago she applied for food stamps.

"My kids needed more help eating," she said.

The $600 she receives monthly to spend on her children is all on an electronic card.

Stephen Perdue, the program director at the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services, said they've averaged around 70 to 75 percent of the people who are eligible based on the census to receive food stamps.

"That number has increased drastically," Perdue said.

Back in 2009, a little more than 18,000 households in Richmond County relied on food stamps to help pay the grocery bill. Fast forward to 2011 and that number has shot up to more than 24,000 households. The agency experienced a 32 percent increase over a three-year period.

"Maybe three years ago a family who was eligible to receive food stamps would have been able to scrape by, but with increase in gas and food, they need that extra assistance," Perdue said.

That has more families walking through the doors at DFCS.

"Most of our people are working in some form or fashion full time or part time," Perdue said.

With the higher demand for more assistance, the department launched a new website -- one that they say many people aren't taking advantage of.

"We're trying to go to an electronic system, offer some convenience to the customer," Perdue said.

Starting this month clients can renew their application online so they don't have to wait in line at the office. As long as unemployment is high, directors expect more people to join the program, but Hall is hoping to get back on her own two feet.

"As long as I get a decent job I'll be all right," she said.

You can access the compass website here. The website will allow you to see if you are eligible for the program and you can start an application and renew an expiring application.

Mailing Address: P.O. Box 1212 Augusta, GA 30903 Main Telephone: (803) 278-1212 Newsroom: (803) 278-3111 Fax: (803) 442-4561
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