Feds say NC has cleared food stamp backlog

From staff reportsApril 15, 2014 

— The state has adequately cleared a long backlog that was delaying food aid to North Carolinians, the federal government announced Tuesday.

In December, the U.S. Department of Agriculture had threatened to sanction the state $88 million for failing to address its delays in approving requests for a program that helps low-income families buy food. More than 30,000 applications for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, popularly known as food stamps, were overdue in August, along with 38,000 re-certification requests.

More than 6,000 households waited three months or longer for the benefits they requested, according to state data.

The state Department of Health and Human Services said early this month it had whittled that caseload down to 375 overdue requests, the Associated Press reported. The federal government has accepted the state’s reported progress, saying North Carolina met the requirements outlined by USDA.

“We appreciate the state’s efforts and expect North Carolina will continue to make it a priority to ensure eligible families receive nutritional benefits in a timely manner,” the USDA said in a written statement. “USDA will continue to closely monitor the state’s compliance with federal rules and regulations.”

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