Communities Rally To Fight Delayed Food Stamps

6:30 PM, Jun 12, 2012   |    comments
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(Greensboro, NC)  --  WFMY News 2 has received several phone calls over the past week from concerned residents who have not been able to use their food stamp cards at grocery stores.

Rev. Mike Aiken with The Greensboro Urban Ministry tells us there is a major problem with EBT/Food Stamps administered through the Guilford County Department of Social Services (DSS).

News 2 arranged for an Emergency Food Drive at two Triad Harris Teeter locations. The store on Eastchester Drive in High Point and the one in the Friendly Shopping Center both accepted donations until 6:30 pm.

The Greensboro Urban Ministry estimates 1,400 pounds of food had been raised at the Friendly Center alone.

On May 17th a new software system was installed at DSS to process EBT/Food Stamps, but something went wrong. About 300 families have not received their benefits since May 17th.

According to a state representative with DSS, this isn't a glitch or a system failure. It is "growing pains" with a new pilot system that is designed to (in the most basic terms) switch to a computer based system. Right now, surprisingly, the system is largely paper based.

Ultimately, county workers are learning a new system, and that takes time. The new software also has bugs in it. The most appalling and preventable part about this mess is that the county's computers were not powerful enough to run the program."Because this is new software, I can't tell you that we won't have recurring problems every month until we're fully trained in using the software and fully implemented," said Steve Hayes with the Guilford County Department of Social Services. "What I can say, is that initial pain of transferring from an old system to a new system, we hope that this month will be the worst of it. That doesn't mean it won't happen again."

As a result of this problem, Greensboro Urban Ministry has been overwhelmed with requests for emergency food orders. From May 17 to June 7, Urban Ministry assisted 859 men, women, and children with food. In comparison over the same period last month, 643 people were served. Over the same period last year (2011), 674 people were served. Yesterday, June 11, Urban Ministry proceeded over 90 emergency food orders in comparison to an average of 50 a normal Monday.

Fortunately, Urban Ministry has a good supply of food thanks to the recent letter carriers food drive. That supply will go fast now that school has ended for the summer and children will depend more on food at home.

Urban Ministry urges our community to be generous in donating food and emergency assistance funds to help Greensboro needy families in the summer. Not only do many families face hunger in the summer, but many of these same families fall all the way into homelessness. Call the Urban Ministry Food Bank, 336-553-2672, to order your food collection box for your congregation, business, or civic group. Monetary and food donations can be sent to Greensboro Urban Ministry, 305 West Lee Street, Greensboro, N.C. 27406

Update: Other community organizations volunteered to help:

American Red Cross
3692 Hwy 14
Reidsville, NC

Christians United Outreach Center
135 Sunset Avenue
Asheboro, NC

Crisis Control Ministry
431 West Bodenhamer Street
Kernersville, NC

Crisis Control Ministry
200 East Tenth Street
Winston-Salem, NC

Greensboro Urban Ministry
305 West Lee Street
Greensboro, NC

Loaves & Fishes
509 South Lexington Ave.
Burlington, NC

Loaves & Fishes
408 West Center Street
Mebane, NC

Open Door Ministries of High Point
400 North Centennial Street
High Point, NC

Second Harvest Food Bank of NW NC
3655 Reed Street
Winston-Salem, NC

The Lord's Pantry
602 North Bridge Street
Eden, NC


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