Raleigh, N.C. — The number of families waiting on food stamp benefits dropped this week to its lowest level since tracking began in the fall, according to data from the state's health agency.
The Department of Health and Human Services says current totals show 1,097 untimely cases are still pending in the system, down about 35 percent from last week. Most of these cases have been processing one to three months, while about 300 are late emergency applications.
On Feb. 11, DHHS Secretary Aldona Wos told lawmakers that workers met a U.S. Department of Agriculture deadline to clear longstanding and emergency cases by Feb. 10. The agency's second deadline is 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.
DHHS spokesman Kevin Howell said in an email Monday that, because the latest data calculated based on daily totals represent a "snapshot in time," the agency would release a more complete report on the progress toward the March deadline Thursday.