Despite claim of reduced backlog, many in North Carolina still wait for food stamps

North Carolina officials said they met a federal deadline to clear a backlog of food stamp applications.
April 21, 2014 3:09:49 PM PDT
Earlier this month, officials with the state Department of Health and Human Services told reporters the agency met a federal deadline to clear a backlog of food stamp applications or face the loss of $88 million in funding from the US Department of Agriculture.

DHHS and counties had until March 31 to process more than 23,000 food stamp applications and renewals that had been pending for more than 90 days. The applications are supposed to be processed by law within 30 days.

But if the state met the goal, why are there Triangle residents still waiting for their benefits? Sharon Burris applied last July for food stamps and she still doesn't have benefits.

"Something has to be done. This is absolutely ridiculous," she said.

Burris called and went to Wake County's DHHS office. She even has emails that date back to January from a program manager with the county's food and nutrition program assuring her they will correct the issue. But months later, still nothing.

"Someone needs to know it's not working," said Burris.

And Alexis Levine is another Wake County resident still waiting.

"I was told, okay, it will be 30 days basically, and it's been four months so far.  And I haven't been able to get through to anybody," she said. "I don't know what to say anymore, what to do, who to turn to, how to handle it."

And time is pressing.

"I do have a very limited income and that income is going solely for food right now," said Levine.

The women question how the state met the backlog as - state and federal officials claim - if they're still waiting for benefits.

"There are those of us who are waiting over six months, and I don't know how the government can stand by and let it happen," said Burris.

ABC11 has reached to DHHS and the Department of Agriculture for comment.

DHHS told us: "As a county-administered system, DHHS continues to work with all 100 counties in an effort to sustain timely processing of food stamps."


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