North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services working through weekend to meet NC FAST deadline

Health workers across NC are in a race against the clock to clear a backlog of food stamp applications.
February 9, 2014 7:15:49 AM PST
Health workers across North Carolina are in crunch mode. They are in a race against the clock to clear a backlog of food stamp applications.

If they do not meet the Monday deadline imposed by the USDA, they could lose funding.

Wake County pledged to have their outstanding cases taken care of by Friday, but they say that has not happened, yet.

Wake County's Department of Social Services will be working up until the very last day before the federal deadline to fix its food stamp backlog.

State Social Services Director Wayne Black, who only spoke to ABC11 through email, said Wake County staff had 33 cases to handle Saturday. Most were finished, but not all. There are seven more cases to file.

Black adds that one case required a home visit to get paperwork.

Wake County along with other counties is pressed to finish the work. The state was threatened it could lose tens of millions of dollars in federal funding if the food backlog was not corrected.

"I'm desperate. I've been checking it every day," said food stamp recipient Cheryl Whitfield.

Whitfield is among the thousands whose food stamp applications became backlogged with the rollout of the state's NC Fast program. Her January benefits finally came Thursday after she emailed ABC11. Yet, food stamps from February, promised by Friday, never came.

"I'm not checked off yet. I'm not checked off the list until they pay me the rest," Whitfield said.

The cases being resolved right now are just the ones the USDA considers the most outdated, there are still hundreds of others that are weeks, even months old, that are also still pending.

DHHS says progress is being made, all hands are on deck, and the deadline that will ensure continued federal funding will be met.

"We've learned a lot in this process about state supervision and county administration," Black said.

Wake County staff worked until 3 p.m. Saturday and will return to work at noon Sunday. After they finish the seven remaining cases that have to be done, Black says staff may start working on a few more cases.


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