CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) - It's often the last option for families. Hundreds of Chesterfield residents are now lining up for food stamps.
At Chesterfield's Department of Social Services, the case load is stacking up. Nearly 50 percent more people are applying for food stamps and we're talking folks from all walks of life.
"We're seeing a lot of people who've never needed to ask for our help before," says Marsha Sharpe with Social Services.
Since fiscal year 2009 she's reporting a 21 percent increase in active cases, 19 percent in applications alone.
"For a lot of the people we're seeing now, they've never thought of it before. It's a little bit embarrassing for them to have to ask for help."
But the process is anything but embarrassing. A monthly allowance is uploaded on cards like this one. Approval requires proof of residency, income and expenses. If you don't qualify for food stamps with the department of social services, your next stop should be a food bank.
The Chesterfield Colonial Heights Alliance of Social Ministry, or CCHASM, puts people in place with one of 14 local food banks.
"A lot of the faces are changing, a lot of professionals that probably once never though they'd need assistance," says Phil Daniel a CCHASM board member.
They're now helping more than 400 families each month.
"We gave away over 2,000 bags of food to the local community. We gave out thousands of dollars worth of gift certificates."
That was just during thanksgiving. In the last year demand is up 40 percent.
'We're excited that we're providing help, we're providing hope and we're never giving up."
Unfortunately the department of social services expects to continue this increase of people needing help to put food on the table.
Chesterfield Department of Social Services: 748-1100
CCHASM: English: 796-2749 Spanish: 796-1002