HONOLULU (KHON2) — Struggling families have not been getting food stamps issued by the state. They’ve reached out to KHON2 to find out what’s holding up the benefits.
Food stamps also known as SNAP benefits are usually received at the beginning of the month. But there are many who are still waiting. Pat Kelly called KHON2 worried about her 70-year-old sister on the Big Island who has also been diagnosed with cancer.
“She has few resources, like I said, and really depends on that. And also having a medical condition, I think it’s important that she does have proper nutrition and everything,” said Kelly.
The state Department of Human Services administers the program and said the delays are caused by a number of reasons. The federal government, which is actually in charge of the program, has reinstated certain requirements for beneficiaries, like interviews for those renewing the benefits. So DHS said it’s taking longer to process them.
“So there’s just a lot of work required of our staff and we’re trying to do as many mitigation efforts so that we can respond quickly to the needs of the community,” said Joseph Campos, deputy director at DHS.
Campos added that because of the economy, they’re also getting 300 to 400 new applications each day. KHON2 asked if there’s a way workers from other departments can help with the backlog.
“Unfortunately, the federal government has very strict standards on who can actually make determinations on SNAP eligibility. So they would have to be trained appropriately,” said Campos.
He said the federal government has waived some requirements so that will speed up some of the process. He added that workers put in extra hours on Veteran’s Day so they are making progress. He said there are still about 800 people who are waiting. KHON2 asked if beneficiaries can at least get them by Thanksgiving but he couldn’t say.
As for Kelly who’s helping her sister on the Big Island, each day that passes gets more difficult.
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“She is very frustrated, first of all, living alone with not much of a support system because we’re here on Oahu. She doesn’t seem to have too much help,” Kelly said.
We’re reaching out to lawmakers and we will follow up.