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WDAY: The News Leader

Published January 23, 2014, 07:05 PM

North Dakota sees increases in millionaires and food shelf visits

Fargo, N.D. (WDAY TV) -A recent report published by Phoenix Marketing International shows that North Dakota is minting new millionaires faster than ever before.

By: Drew Trafton, WDAY

Fargo, N.D. (WDAY TV) -A recent report published by Phoenix Marketing International shows that North Dakota is minting new millionaires faster than ever before.

But despite a strong regional economy, some residents are struggling more than ever.

In 2013, the Emergency Food Pantry provided 30,061 individuals with food. That represents 9,037 families in the F-M area.

Greg Diehl, Emergency Food Pantry administrator: "And it's continuing to grow."

A 15 percent increase over 2012, a rate continuing to climb in 2014.

Diehl: "I think some of it can be attributed to the fact that our population is growing, but I don't think our population is growing at a 15 to 18 percent clip."

Emergency Food Pantry Administrator Greg Diehl says people coming in recently are typically low-wage workers struggling to pay large winter heating bills as federal assistance programs like SNAP expire.

Diehl: "Individuals who may be were running out of food stamps toward the end of the month, like the last week of the month, and would start needing food assistance. Now, it's maybe the third week of the month."

Linda Clark has spent more than a decade working at the pantry and knows first-hand how the community responds to those in need.

Linda Clark, Emergency Food Pantry employee: "It's sad really. But we're lucky that we live in Fargo because we have so many donations coming in that you never have to turn anybody away."

And while staff holds out hope that more people will contribute to the rising problem, they say they're not just looking to fill a belly.

Clark: "When we see these people, they're not coming here because it's a good day. It's usually a very bad day."

But also a soul.

There are several items in high demand at the Food Pantry if you'd like to make a contribution. They include proteins such as peanut butter, tuna and pre-packaged hamburgers. Also fresh produce and fresh dairy products are always welcome. The pantry also accepts diaper and toilet paper donations.

If you would rather make a difference in person, they're also looking for volunteers.

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