Local News

Audit: Wake County too slow in approving food stamps

Posted September 1

food stamps sign

— Families on food assistance – many with children – often wonder where their next meal will come from. A recent state audit shows some of those Wake County families who need help are waiting too long to receive the benefits they deserve.

When Phillip Gomez needed help with his 4-month-old son, Rico, he turned to Wake County Human Services.

"This is my first time going through this situation because I'm a single father," he said. "They've been really, really helpful getting things done same day, not having to wait too long."

So, he was stunned to learn about a state review which found widespread mistakes in food assistance applications.

"Obviously it's concerning. There's families out there that need the help," he said.

The state reviewed 130 food stamp applications and found that 78 percent had errors. Of those errors, 30 percent or almost one in three included food stamp applications that should have been approved but weren't within 30 days.

In fact, the audit found three applications that were at least 60 days old. 

Finally, inspectors noted numerous complaint calls about why the approval process was taking so long.

Patricia Winston, another Wake County client, was also surprised. She's been pleased with the services she reeives, but the findings troubled her.

"I think that's terrible," she said, "and I just pray to God they get it together so it won't be so hard on people."

In response to the findings, Wake County's communications director told WRAL News, "We regret that errors were found in how we process FNS applications ... We have already taken steps to help prevent these errors from occurring again, and we are actively ensuring our staff is properly trained."

The State Department of Health and Human Services continues to review the matter, but there's no indication any disciplinary action will be taken against the county.
 

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