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Getting By: From Wall Street To Main Street

Above: Click play to view the web exclusive report on food stamps

For the past couple of weeks, we've been working on a project called Getting By . It's a look at the local economy and how people are coping, given the market crash, the foreclosure mess, and the rising cost of rent, gas and food.

We've heard from you about how this is affecting your everyday lives. & More of you are simply not getting by; middle-class families are now showing up at food bank lines.

We also uncovered a story about food stamps : a federal program that provides money for food to working families and those on assistance.

San Diego County has the lowest food stamp participation rate in the country according to a national survey of 24 large urban areas. Only one in three who are eligible actually apply. And that means the county is losing more than $140 million in free food -- food that could go to the poorest of the poor.

The county is responsible for getting the word out about food stamps. They also administer the program. We asked them why so few people participated in a program that would give them more money for food. & Some people are intimidated by the process, others just don't know it's available.

The most surprising response we got from the county was that they didn't have enough money to administer the program. This is surprising because the federal and state governments paid the county $28 million last year, according to a county spokesperson. That just to administer the food stamp program -- to do the paperwork and outreach -- and get the word out to the community.

In the past seven years, a California Department of Social Services spokesperson says, the state has paid the county more than $75 million to administer the program. A county spokesperson says while that may be the case, the state has not increased the money it gives per caseload in seven years, and the cost of doing business has gone up.

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