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Food Stamp Delays Continue In The Triad

8:01 AM, Aug 9, 2013   |    comments
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ALAMANCE COUNTY, N.C. -- Many people in Triad counties have said they are continuing to experience delays in receiving food stamp benefits, despite local Department of Social Services (DSS) offices' assurance that delay-causing issues with a new computer system are being fixed.

News 2 received an e-mail from a viewer in Alamance County, who said she has not been able to receive her EBT card benefits and cannot get anyone from the Alamance Co. DSS office to call her back. She said she has five children and another child due in five days.

News 2 reached out to the Alamance Co. DSS office and spoke with the assistant director Linda Allison and economic support program manager Michelle Poole. They explained staff is working overtime to sort out problems that have arisen from a new computer system-"NC FAST"-implemented statewide earlier this year. Local DSS offices have said this system has prevented the recertification of some EBT cards.

Alamance Co. DSS said its office has set up a triage unit to help people who have not been able to get their EBT cards recertified. Allison and Poole stressed people are urged to submit EBT card recertification applications by the 15th of the month in which the card needs to be recertified. For example, people who want their benefits by Sept. 3 must submit recertification by the 15th. This is normal protocol, and they say abiding by that protocol will help combat the computer system issues out of their control.

Alamance Co. DSS explained the staff is not capable of returning the high volume of calls it has been receiving. Allison and Poole said staff will call back only if it needs additional information from a customer. But, they said people who need immediate assistance can stop by the Alamance Co. DSS office or get food services from the local food bank-Loaves and Fishes-on Center Street in Mebane.

Guilford County DSS has said it has been experiencing similar problems, and News 2 checked back in with its assistant director Steve Hayes to see whether the Department of Health and Human Services' plan to fix the glitches had resolved the benefit delays. Hayes said new applications for EBT cards have been going through, but the office is still struggling to fulfill EBT card re-certifications. He speculated benefit delays at his office are probably not as many as those in Alamance County, as Guilford DSS has been using the new computer system longer.

Hayes said people in Guilford Co. who are having problems getting benefits can call 336-641-5453. People also can stop by the DSS office or receive services from a local food bank-like Greensboro Urban Ministry on Lee Street.

Both the Alamance Co. and Guilford Co. DSS offices said they are just as frustrated as customers about the delays and want to resolve the computer system issues as soon as possible.

News 2 did put the help-seeking Alamance Co. mother in contact with Alamance Co. DSS. Poole assured News 2 the office would get her the resources she needs for her family.

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