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Food stamps backlog going down

The backlog of North Carolina’s food stamps applications is continuing to go down, as county and state health and human services workers put in overtime to meet a Monday deadline set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Revised numbers released Tuesday by the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services  how that there are still more than 4,000 applications pending statewide, including more than 800 that have pending for more than three months.

Click here and here to see DHHS’ county breakdowns of the existing backlog.

The USDA has threatened to withhold federal administrative funding if the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services didn’t get rid of the bulk of a backlog of thousands of cases where families had been waiting months for emergency food assistance. The delays were caused by the state agency’s transition to a new benefits management technology system, N.C. FAST, that had a rocky launch that prevented county-level workers from processing food stamps applications in a timely manner.

County social workers and temporary DHHS workers have been working overtime and on weekends to get rid of the backlog, according to a DHHS news release sent out Tuesday afternoon.  Legislative assistants were also asked to volunteer their time in a plea Thursday from the office of state Rep. Paul “Skip” Stam.

Wake County continues to be a bottleneck, with 1,517 pending applications in the urban county.

A larger issue may now be the amount of time families are waiting to have their existing food stamps recertified. DHHS statistics show that there are more than 10,000 recertifications are pending, but with the majority (9,733) of those only a week or two behind.

We shared a letter last week from a Burlington single mother working two jobs who hadn’t received food stamps since Nov. 15 for herself and her 14-year-old.

Things are looking up for her now, with notification she received today that she will begin receive $121 a month in food stamps.

“I just hung up with a representative from NC FAST who called to let me know that my application is fully processed,” Sarah wrote.

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