State working up to deadline on food stamp backlog
State DHHS officials were expected to release details Tuesday regarding whether the state met a federal deadline for clearing its backlog of food stamp applications.Posted — Updated
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has threatened to pull $88 million in administrative funding if the state can't get a handle on continuing delays that have left some needy families without food stamps for months.
Data released by DHHS showed that about 400 applications were still pending Monday, but spokesman Kevin Howell said those figures don't include a separate backlog in Guilford County.
DHHS Secretary Aldona Wos told lawmakers last week that Guilford County has numerous applications that hadn't even been entered into NC FAST, the state's troubled benefits management system, which jeopardized the state's ability to meet the deadline.
"The state and counties have put significant efforts into addressing the remaining backlog and achieving compliance with USDA timeframes," Howell said in an email. "Throughout this process, DHHS has had regular, positive conversations with the USDA’s Regional Office, and they were very pleased with the state’s efforts and understanding about the situation in Guilford County."
Guilford County officials called in extra county and state workers and contractors to process the estimated 8,100 cases. It was unclear Monday afternoon how many remained in the queue.
The controversy led Robert Williams, the county's social services director, to resign Monday morning. He said it was best for the county to move forward under new leadership.
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