GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. - It is tough to ask for help, even tougher to do it publicly.
For those who find themselves in that position, shame is one word they use to describe it.
"You want to be able to support yourself and your family," said Nicole. "You have to eat to survive. It's better than stealing."
Although Nicole didn't want to show her face on television, she wanted to share her story about how even people living in the suburbs can find themselves hungry.
"Big city, small city, out in the country, it doesn't matter where you live," she said.
According to Hunger Solutions Minnesota, visits to suburban food shelves have increased 90-percent in the past three years. The largest increase has been in Dakota County at 342-percent.
Break it down even further, the story is just as heart breaking. At the Salvation Army food shelf in Burnsville, the number of households served went from 1500 in 2009 to about 1,000 per month in 2012.
In Minnetonka, the Intercongregation Communities Association Food Shelf has seen a 114-percent increase in demand since 2008. It's why the ICA opened another shelter in Excelsior recently.
"In the business world, being up a 114-percent is a good thing, but that just means we have doubled our work, plus some," said ICA Executive Director Cathy Maes. "In the ring suburbs, we're seeing a huge increase.
Terry Gray is part of that increase.
"I never thought I'd ever do something like this. Sometimes you have to put your pride aside," said Gray who is getting help from ICA.
Without a job, he unexpectedly became ill spending two weeks in the hospital recently. A common tale where the bills piled up, but the money to buy food did not.
"I don't judge someone walking into our door as a volunteer, as a client, or as supporter or donor because they look too much the same," said Cathy Maes, executive director of ICA Food Shelf.
It's the same story in Maplewood at the food shelf run by the Salvation Army which just opened this summer to meet the high demand.
"Even working families are coming and they need help as well," said Lynnette Medcalf, a case worker for the Salvation Army.
They are working families who never had to ask for help, until now.
"It's a blessing in disguise to have programs like this," said Gray.
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