Backlog of food stamp applications in Georgia leads to long lines in the rain

Dozens of people lined the sidewalk outside the state Food Stamp Office for hours in the rain in DeKalb County on Tuesday.

Some had umbrellas, others got soaked.

A backlog in the Georgia Food Stamp Program has caused major delays in approving applications and renewals, a spokesman for the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services said.

“My nose is running, I’m shaking,” said Crystal Boley, dodging raindrops while waiting to get inside the building. “You just have to do better. It’s not.”

She said she has three children at home, the youngest five years old.

Boley said she applied to renew her eligibility for the program in mid-September, weeks before it was due to expire in October.

In mid-November, she said her status remains in limbo.

“I came up here because I didn’t hear anything,” she said. “This is my third time here trying to figure it out.”

With the pressure of inflation, she said, she’s running low and now worries about putting food on the table for her kids.

A security guard at the DeKalb County office told FOX 5 to leave the property, adding that no workers inside could come out to speak.

A little later, a DFACS spokesman emailed a statement.

“Due to inflation and labor shortages, we are working towards an increased volume for SNAP applications and renewals. We continue to look at ways to get more flexibility from the federal government to process cases faster and more efficiently. At the state level, we will also offer overtime for employees.”

The program’s website directs those with problems to call 877-423-4746.

Ronald Sweet, who said he stood in the rain for about three hours to speak to someone, said he’s already tried.

“I don’t want to use profanity, but that’s one of my reactions,” Sweet said. “I called, but there’s no answer. They said to leave a message, I can’t leave a message because the voicemails are full. You say to call the manager, you call the manager and they don’t answer either.”

Boley said the same thing happened to her.

“It goes straight to voicemail. It said the call volume was too high,” Boley said. “So I came up here.”