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BOISE -- Idaho is making national headlines for becoming the new face of working class families utilizing federal assistance just to get by until the next paycheck comes in. Monday, NBC s Rock Center featured two Nampa families who have no other choice but to enroll in federal assistance to buy groceries.

The number of families using food stamps is up 36 percent from 2010. Idaho has 235,000 families using federal dollars just to buy their kids and themselves food.

James Dougherty and Jessica Postma have five children together and just last year they made $46,000, but now their income is less than half that.

We are not the habitual abusers of the system. This is to stabilize our family and to give us a platform in order to be able to do it ourselves, said Dougherty.

Their story grabbed the attention of national media. NBC national news correspondent Kate Snow traveled to Idaho to learn that the new face of food stamps are families just like James and Jessica s.

We found a number of families who are working people, and they just don t have enough to get by so they are relying on that food assistance as their only food money, said Snow.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare reports the number of Idahoans enrolled in the food stamp program known as SNAP has dramatically increased since 2007.

People lost their jobs, and we started seeing all sorts of people coming in asking for help. People who never saw assistance for anything before, said Emily Simnitt, public information officer for the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.

We had a really high growth rate here in Idaho, and we think that is because there were a sort of people living on the edge already, but they had other support networks where they were able to get help, and when the recession just hit so hard, those people lost a lot of those support networks, said Simnitt.

The money loaded onto James and Jessica s SNAP card only comes on the first of each month. This month their balance is $691. That amount must last their family the entire month because by the time the end of the month rolls around, their cupboards could be empty again.

Idaho is right in line with the national average for people using food stamps. For a long time Idaho was lower, but after the recession hit, the number of people enrolled in food stamps in Idaho grew rapidly.

Food stamps are paid for through federal dollars. The state of Idaho gets about $30 million a month to pay for the distribution of food stamps.

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