Food stamp backlog rises one week after USDA deadline

Posted February 17, 2014
Updated February 18, 2014

Secretary of Health and Human Services Aldona Wos tells lawmakers during a Feb. 11, 2014, oversight committee hearing that North Carolina met a federal deadline to clear a backlog of food stamps applications.

— The number of backlogged food stamp cases ticked up slightly in the week since a federal deadline to clear the majority of delayed cases.

New data from the state released Monday evening show the total food stamp backlog now stands at 1,678. That’s up about 34 percent since N.C. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Aldona Wos told lawmakers that workers met a U.S. Department of Agriculture deadline to clear longstanding and emergency cases by Feb. 10.

DHHS spokesperson Julie Henry said in a phone interview Tuesday that the size of the backlog is constantly in flux as new applications and recertifications for food stamps are entered into NC FAST, the system launched last year to streamline the delivery of social services.

"As we have said repeatedly, the numbers that are reflected in daily reports are a snapshot in time," Henry said. "They can change from one day to the next."

The higher number is far removed from a high point on Dec. 31, when the state's data showed nearly 36,000 food stamp cases remained behind schedule – some for four months or more.

Henry said workers are still focused on meeting the USDA's second deadline on March 31, when the federal agency requires the state to clear the backlog completely and fix other problems according to the state's corrective action plan.

"I think the secretary was very clear at the [legislative oversight committee] when she said we can't let up," Henry said. "We're supporting counties however we can."

As the USDA noted in its latest response to DHHS last week, missing that deadline could cost the state about $88 million in federal administrative food stamp funding.

"I'm not sure we're worried about that, because I think we've demonstrated we're willing to do what need to do to get those applications processed," Henry said. "All eyes are on March 31."

Wake County claims the largest share of the backlog with 679 cases.

Officials from the Wake County Division of Social Services have not responded to requests for comment.

Reducing the backlog

Explore the graphic above to see how the food stamp backlog has changed since the U.S. Department of Agriculture issued its warning. The bottom portion includes the majority of pending applications and recertifications the USDA wants eliminated by Feb. 10. Data will be updated as updates are received.


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  • Paul M Feb 19, 2014

    They were hiding ther incopitance from the feds.

  • Barbara Sossomon Feb 19, 2014
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    View quoted thread

    If the mailing addresses are incorrect, how is that the agencies problem? I would think that the family gives the mailing address or do you think that the agency just picks an address off a map?

  • Fred Garner Feb 18, 2014
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    Wos who? She needs to go. She's obviously unqualified to lead anything. Wos has embarrassed the entire state in front of the national media. Typical of this administration.

  • lessismore Feb 18, 2014

    53% increase to those on food stamps under Obama.

  • Greg Boop Feb 18, 2014
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    So the entire "reduce the backlog" thing is turning into a farce. Fire Wos now!

  • dennis8 Feb 18, 2014

    So is this due to the storms last week or because Pat's folks think no one is watching now?

  • goldenosprey Feb 18, 2014

    Heckuva job! The dems and I will be bummed if she ever gets the hook from the administration.

    Of course, I am fortunate enough to be able to feed my family. Not everyone is.

  • Forthe Newssite Feb 18, 2014
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    Anyone surprised?????

    No one watching or threatening to take $$ so they are back to the same ole, same ole. Wos needs to be replaced by someone who can do the job and the employees that can't do the job also need to go....working for DHHS should NOT be a lifetime position. PLEASE REPLACE WOS!!!! but patti won't do that

  • Sally Bethune Feb 18, 2014
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    Wos and her cronies need to go hungry EVERY night. Perhaps she would then understand what it feels like to NOT know where your next meal is coming form!

  • Sally Bethune Feb 18, 2014
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    I've paid taxes in NC for over 50 years. Now I pay higher taxes percentage wise than NC richest 5%ers. Then every week I collect food and buy food for soup kitchens and food banks, etc. Darn it, I want a reasonable percentage of my tax money used to feed hungry people and properly educate our next generation! This is what the government must do to turn the state around and not turn in upside down. When NC teachers are moving to SC for higher wages we are really in a mess!