ATLANTA – Georgian officials are promising full benefits to a number of people who have been denied food aid for weeks or even months because of bureaucratic problems.
State officials can’t say how many people have not received their benefits due to a delay in reviewing applications for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, but they reportedly said SNAP payments should run out before Thanksgiving.
The FOX 5 I team reached out to a Department of Human Services spokeswoman, who wrote that inflation had led to a spike in applications and they were also facing staffing issues.
The same elements exist at the national level, but Georgia seems to excel in struggling to resolve it.
In an email, DHS alleges that the state provider that oversees the online portal is working on a technology solution to help customers catch up with the Thanksgiving holiday.
State officials say they have taken some new proactive steps by increasing hiring and offering overtime. They’ve also received a federal waiver that allows them to trigger benefits for people who have “pending renewals.” This should relieve some backlog pressure.
Jovi Iovine and his wife depend on $800 a month from a paycheck and food stamps to support their two children. He attempted to renew food stamps last month and so far he has received no indication that the renewal is going through.
“I don’t think it’s fair to my kids not to celebrate Thanksgiving,” said Iovine, who lives in Nashville, Georgia. “We’re fine right now. But within a week there is nothing left for the children.”
Earlier this month, dozens of people lined the sidewalk outside the SNAP benefits office in DeKalb County in the rain.
“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.
With the pressure of inflation, she said, she’s running low and now worries about putting food on the table for her kids.
The program’s website directs those with problems to call 877-423-4746.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.