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North Carolina’s food stamps program continues to face major problems in how it operates and monitors federal funds for low-income families struggling to get food on their tables, according to a recent report by federal officials.

NC FAST logoA strongly worded management evaluation by the U.S. Department of Agriculture of the state’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program  listed more than 38 faults with North Carolina’s system, ranging from “critical findings” regarding a lack of oversight at the state level to regulatory violations about what is included on applications for food assistance.

“There are critical findings in the Claims/TOP area that are related to a lack of State oversight and monitoring,” read one finding in the 19-page report. (Scroll down to read the report itself.)

The major findings also included a “lack of State oversight in Recipient Integrity” that led to instances of potential fraud not being referred to for prosecution and “serious findings” in the state’s employment and training program.

The Sept. 10 management evaluation rested on visits that officials from the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service office made in May and June where operations were observed at the state level, as well as in social services offices in Guilford, Pitt and Wake counties.

It requires DHHS to provide a corrective action plan within the next 60 days.

The report came on the heels of a major breakdwon in North Carolina’s food stamps delivery system last year that left thousands of low-income families without access to food assistance for weeks or months. The problems were attributed to glitches in a new technology system, N.C. FAST (Families Assessing Services through Technology) and issues that county-level workers had in accessing the new system while struggling under heavy caseloads.

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Food bankBefore you sit down to open presents or enjoy a holiday feast tomorrow or at some other point over the coming days, take a moment or two to read Sarah Ovaska’s Christmas Eve story over on the main Policy Watch site — it’s called “Hungry, with no end in sight.”

After you’ve done that, take a few more minutes to contemplate what it would be like to rely like Sylvia Cameron on a paltry sum in SNAP benefits (i.e. Food Stamps) and the charity of others just to survive and stay nourished each month.

Next, briefly ruminate on the fact that a shocking percentage of your neighbors are in just such a boat — the vast majority of them good, honest, working people (and a huge percentage children).

Finally, if you make it this far, take at least a moment to consider the fact that this situation — one that does not exist in many other modern nations — might just not be the fault of those who are hungry and, in fact, might be, at least in some small measure, all of our responsibility.

You can read Sarah’s article by clicking here.

 

 

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If you’re planning on heading out for a fast food meal today, you might want to check out this petition being advanced by the good folks at the Campaign for America’s Future entitled “Tell McDonald’s to stop buying luxury jets until they pay their workers a l;iving wage.” As the post notes:

“More than half of low-wage workers employed by the largest U.S. fast-food restaurants earn so little that they must rely on public assistance to get by.

McDonald’s is the worst offender, costing taxpayers $1.2 billion in poverty benefits for its employees. McDonald’s claims that they operate on razor-thin profit margins and can’t pay a living wage.

Yet they announced they had bought yet another brand new $35 million corporate jet for their fleet.”

And speaking of fat cats living large while others go hungry, Read More

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Pat McCrory 2Art Pope 3In a rather amazing response to the bad P.R. they’ve been receiving for their toughest-in-the-nation policies toward the poor and unemployed over the last several months, Gov. McCrory and his budget director, chain store magnate Art Pope, issued a pair of press releases today in an attempt to show what caring souls they are.

Unfortunately for both men, both statements come off as almost comically pathetic in their failure to appreciate the magnitude of the problem confronting people in need.

The Governor’s statement was probably the funniest: he announced that:

“approximately 6,700 pounds of fresh turnip greens harvested at the state prison farm at Caledonia Correctional Institution are being delivered to the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina.”

Gee thanks, Guv! That ought to take care of that pesky hunger problem!

Pope, meanwhile, Read More

NC Budget and Tax Center

In the latest issue of Prosperity Watch, Alexandra Sirota takes a look at food insecurity in North Carolina, and finds that far too many of our state’s residents don’t have enough food to eat. As a result, recent decisions by state government to temporarily halt critical food assistance programs due to the federal government shutdown placed thousands of families at risk of hunger–especially those living in rural North Carolina. See the latest Prosperity Watch for details.