Local News

Problems continue to plague NC food stamps system

Posted August 6, 2013
Updated August 7, 2013

— Months after North Carolina rolled out a new computer program to streamline social services, people say they are still having trouble obtaining their food stamps benefits.

About 170 people in Granville County are complaining that they didn't receive their monthly food stamps allotment on Monday and might have to wait until the end of August to get caught up.

"I have two pieces of bologna, and I have a piece of bread," one woman in Creedmoor said Tuesday, describing the contents of her refrigerator.

The woman, who declined to give her name, has an empty freezer and only a few cans of soup and green beans in the cupboard to feed her and her teenage daughter.

"I guess I can eat one can a day, but you know, hopefully, my daughter can eat at a friend's – a meal here and there," she said.

Counties statewide have been using the NC FAST system, which stands for Families Accessing Services through Technology, since at least March. Officials with the Granville County Department of Social Services preached patience as they address what they call a glitch in the system.

"With any new program, you're going to have a certain amount of glitches," said Lou Bechtel, county DSS director.

Bechtel said DSS staff members are still getting used to NC FAST, and he couldn't predict when the problems would be fixed.

Empty refrigerator Computer glitch leaves many in Granville with little food

"I could consult my crystal ball, but I don't think that will help," he said. "They're working it on a day-to-day basis."

Ricky Diaz, a spokesman for the state Department of Health and Human Services, said each county has "a learning curve" in shifting to NC FAST, and the agency is trying to help them work through problems. The state has sent support staff to some counties, and others have hired temporary workers to process applications, he said.

The Creedmoor woman, who is disabled and has been receiving food stamps benefits for three years, said she has no choice but to wait for her benefits, however difficult that may be.

"I just don't know what to do," she said, choking back tears. "You hear about these things happening in other countries, when people are really hungry. I know I'm going to feel what it feels like to be really hungry, and I'm scared."

Food banks available to help

Rev. David Richardson, associate pastor of First Baptist Church in Creedmoor, said the church's food bank is accepting cash and food donations for the woman and others in Granville County who don't have the ability to purchase food.

The food bank is open from 9 to 11:30 a.m. Wednesdays and is located on Main Street in Creedmoor. The phone number is 919-528-2351. Checks to the First Baptist Food Bank can be mailed to P.O. Box 38, Creedmoor, NC 27522.

NC FAST isn't the only new computer system causing problems for the state. A growing number of Medicaid providers are considering suing the state Department of Health and Human Services over the NCTracks system, which they say has created various difficulties in getting reimbursed for health care services to the poor and disabled.



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  • Pseudonym Aug 9, 2013

    If I told a customer that I could consult my crystal ball to find out when a problem was going to be fixed, I would be FIRED!

    THIS is why you people on welfare need to work. You are depending on people who don't care about you and make flippant jokes and comments for your sustenance. WORK AND DEPEND ON YOURSELF!!!!!!!

  • gingerlynn Aug 8, 2013

    I truly feel bad for those who are hungry. Go to food pantries, churches, rescue missions for help. The problem with food stamps is that it is abused by some. Some of these people separate their purchase by food stamp items and let me (and you) pay for them. Then they purchase toys, cigarettes, alchohol, with CASH. I see this at walmart everytime I go. It takes away the money for those truly hungry and it should be stopped.

  • beachboater Aug 8, 2013

    "Like the Sequester, Republicans generally love this sort of thing...sticking it to the poor. More anti-Golden Rule."

    JustOneGodLessThanU

    Uh.......check your facts. Obama came up with the sequester. And then when it went into effect, he refused to take opportunities offered by congress to reallocate funds. He let it get to this point for political reasons.

    Your comment is totally off topic.

  • healls Aug 7, 2013

    Like the Sequester, Republicans generally love this sort of thing...sticking it to the poor. More anti-Golden Rule.--JustOneLessGodThanYou

    You're apparently very misinformed (not surprising). NC Fast has been in the works for YEARS, since the Democrats were in charge of the state. This is NOT a Republican project/program. I began hearing about this project as a state employee at least 5 or 6 years ago. We jokingly call it "NC Slow" because it's taken so long to implement it. Based on the things I've read from you in the past, you seem to just blame Republicans for everything without knowing the facts.

  • JoConProud Aug 7, 2013

    @AreYouSeriousRightNow

    I applied once again for food stamps this summer and recvd a letter saying I was denied because my benefits would be less than $1. Really? smh

  • DareToDream Aug 7, 2013

    ...I pay taxes so people can recv their free insurance and food yet I don't deserve any help.

    CheerVolleyballMama

    It Really Is BS!! I've Tried To Get Help With ANYHTING, 1.) You cant Get Welfare if you work, 2.) I Made 430$ Too Much For WIC. 3.) They Would Only Give Me Food Stamps If I Either, Had Another Baby Or Quit Working. 4.) I Cant Get Medicaid Because I Make To Much Money, I Could If I Didn't Work. I'm 23 Y.O And Neither Of Those Are Options!! I Will Feed My Baby Even If I Don't Eat Another Grain of Rice, He Will Eat. I'm Not Irresponsible so I'm Not Having Another Child So I Can Get Help, I'm Not Quitting My Job So I Can Receive A Check At The First of The Month. And I'm Not Down Grading My Job Because I Make $430 too much. Where That $430 is, I Have NO IDEA! They Have No Desire To Help The Ones Helping Their selves, But If I Just Sit At Home and Be Worthless, I Can Get Anything I Want FOR FREE! That What's Wrong With Food Stamps.

  • readme Aug 7, 2013

    Those of us opposed to the food stamp program, esp as it is now, are not without compassion. To accuse us of this is dodging the issue. As any parent knows, sometimes tough love is better than coddling, but it's still love. Nobody disputes an out of work single mom with many kids needs help, and nobody wants people to starve. But how did she get there? Did having a free lunch for years and years contribute to irresponsible family planning, little motivation for carrer advancement, and a lifetime of government dependence? Of course it did. Are there tons of people on assitance spending money more liberally than someone who actually works for it? Of course - we've all seen it, and it happens enough to be the "norm". We are not awful people for calling out this problem. So yes, I will cast the first stone. As a taxpayer who makes sacrifices to balance my own budget and pay for others' mistakes, that is my right and obligation.

  • andela Aug 7, 2013

    Sounds like NCFast is forcing it's people to 'fast'...somehow I don't think that was the desired outcome

  • JoConProud Aug 7, 2013

    "668 dollars a month for 1 adult and 3 children. They are hungry? Really?

    Click to view my profile icdumbpeople

    seems your seeing your reflection in a mirror 668 = $167.00 a week, add in the tax's they pay on goods and there you have it... all of about 150 a week....tell you what all of you almighty's....you try it!"......99percenters

    Excuse me, I do it for $100 each week for myself and 2 teenage daughters. I receive ZERO assistance from any govt agency because I make too much money according to my local DHS. I work FT, struggle each week to make ends meet and I pay taxes so people can recv their free insurance and food yet I don't deserve any help. Call me a "hard-behind" but I have no sympathy for those who sit on their behinds all day doing nothing and are able to work. I am sorry this woman is disabled and can't work, however, there are food banks where those who haven't recvd their monthly handout can go to get more free food.

  • driverkid3 Aug 7, 2013

    I am on disability, but I don't get food stamps, even though I am eligible for them. I know how to shop and get the most for my money, and normally have food left over at the end of the month, unless I help someone in my building.

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