Uncategorized

USDA still unhappy with NC’s slow response to food stamps crisis

NC HHS Sec. Aldona Wos

NC HHS Sec. Aldona Wos

There was more bad news over the weekend regarding the state’s ability to disperse food stamps to North Carolina system.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, who had told  N.C. Health and Human Services Secretary Aldona Wos in December it would suspend administrative funding if North Carolina didn’t address the 20,000-plus backlog, sent another letter last week saying the department’s best efforts to fix the problem weren’t good enough.

A copy of the letter was released by DHHS at 4:47 p.m. Friday.

From Robin Bailey Jr. a regional administrator for USDA’s Food and Nutritional Services (FNS), Jan. 23 letter to Wos:

“FNS is alarmed by the persistent problems despite our extensive technical assistance and repeated communications concerning the severity of the situation. Citizens of North Carolina that need help putting food on the table are not receiving the basic level of responsiveness and quality of service that they deserve from their government. Continued delays create undue hardship for the most vulnerable citizens of North Carolina.

Click here to read the entire letter.

The letter sets a firm Feb. 10 date for state officials to have processed all the backlogged applications for people that are considered hardship cases, anyone waiting more than three months for food stamps and any recertification of food stamps that have been delayed more than 90 days.

If that Feb. 10 deadline isn’t met, USDA will receive a formal warning that could lead to suspension of federal funding for state administrative costs.

Getting better? DHHS says yes but USDA not so sure

DHHS’ Sherry Bradsher, who heads the state agency’s public health division, released a statement saying the state agency was still working on the backlog, and was unhappy with the prospect of losing funding.

“We strongly disagree with the federal government’s threat to withhold Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) administrative funds, which could adversely impact counties’ abilities to assist families in need,” Bradsher wrote in a statement.

DHHS backlog data from Jan. 7 showed that 39,000 households were waiting on Jan. 7 for the federally-funded food stamps, disturbed through a program called Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP.) That’s up from the 20,000 household backlog that USDA called “unacceptable” in December.

Revised North Carolina numbers on Jan. 21 showed a backlog of more than 23,000 but Bailey notes it was unclear if that decrease was because duplicative applications were removed, or if families that needed food were getting help. DHHS officials told lawmakers earlier this month that one reason for the high backlog was because there with duplicated applications.

USDA officials also didn’t seem to buy Wos’ explanation that the state agency’s requirements under the  Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) implementation caused thousands of families to receive needed food stamps.

“It should be noted that many other States have implemented ACA without the dramatic impacts on SNAP that have occurred in North Carolina,” Bailey wrote.

Are you or someone you know waiting for food stamps? N.C. Policy Watch would like to hear from you. Email reporter Sarah Ovaska at sarah@ncpolicywatch.com or call her at (919) 861-1463.

2 Comments


  1. Jack

    January 27, 2014 at 12:22 pm

    In the past people got their food stamps on time. I guess the GOP considers that a broken system. So enters the Guv’s chosen one, Wos, to fix the broken system. Thus far Wos is blaming the past on the present state of things. Of course there is no record of past events showing that DHHS sent thousands of cards to the wrong address and delayed food stamps. The GOP loves to fix what ain’t broke then blame others for their own misguided efforts.

  2. Skeptic

    January 27, 2014 at 12:34 pm

    I have a question, Sarah. If USDA cuts off administrative funding, what happens next? Will the Feds jump in and run the program themselves?

Check Also

UNC Board of Governors face protest, chooses new board chair and interim president

It was a busy day at the final ...

Top Stories from NCPW

  • News
  • Commentary

North Carolina lawmakers’ latest attempt to insert politics into the judiciary was thwarted Tuesday [...]

A N.C. General Assembly budget mandate to fire certain North Carolina public education officials wou [...]

More than a month after a deadline to correct faulty campaign finance reports, N.C. Sen. Ralph Hise [...]

Even before he dropped the gavel on the Senate Finance Committee meeting, Sen. Jerry Tillman, a noto [...]

State budget bill is the latest and best example It’s long been a matter of public record that North [...]

By now the strategy is familiar – the strategy used by the N.C. General Assembly’s Republican chiefs [...]

The post The devil and the details appeared first on NC Policy Watch. [...]

18---percentage of people in North Carolina who receive health care coverage from Medicaid or the Ch [...]

Featured | Special Projects

NC Budget 2017
The maze of the NC Budget is complex. Follow the stories to follow the money.
Read more
 


 
NC Redistricting 2017
New map, new districts, new lawmakers. Here’s what you need to know about gerrymandering in NC.
Read more
 


 
Trump + North Carolina
In dozens of vitally important areas, policy decisions of the Trump administration are dramatically affecting and altering the lives of North Carolinians. This growing collection of stories summarizes and critiques many of the most important decisions and their impacts.
Read more