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DHHS director receives raise despite concerns of program's effectiveness

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The IT director for NC Fast received a $23,000 raise despite concerns of the program's effectiveness. The IT director for NC Fast received a $23,000 raise despite concerns of the program's effectiveness.
RALEIGH, N.C. -

While problems continue to plague North Carolina's Food Assistance Program, one of its directors received a more than $20,000 pay increase in June.

A relatively new program called NC Fast was supposed to provide easier access to food stamps and replace the manual paper process. But the transition hasn't been smooth, as reports of backlogs and system failures from county officials are causing concern and outrage among people that need it the most.

Still, the director responsible for improving the way North Carolinians receive their food stamps received a raise of $23,000 in June.

Anthony Vellucci, 39, who is the IT director of the program, received a raise that brought his annual salary to $168,000. This raise comes at a time when other government employees have seen little to none.

Some who rely on food stamps in Raleigh wonder why the director was awarded for a program that hasn't yet proved it's working.

When Correy Sidney's not working at his job at Wendy's, he's volunteering at the Helping Hand Mission in Raleigh. He said he's had to rely on food stamps for the last three years. But a few months ago, the money stopped coming.

"For the next three months I did not receive them. I think there was something with the system," Sidney said.

Sidney's not the only one. Problems have been reported in counties all over the state.

This comes after Gov. Pat McCrory sent a memo to state agencies asking them to limit most increases.

"It pretty much breaks my heart. This guy is getting a raise for not fulfilling his duties, and then you have to see all the other families like me that are not receiving food stamps, that really actually needed those food stamps," Sidney said.

He said when his food stamps suddenly stopped coming, he didn't know how he was going to feed his children.

Vellucci declined to talk on camera.

Sylvia Wiggins, who is the director of the Helping Hand Mission, said she shies away from politics, but still wanted answers.

"I can understand there's a lot of bureaucracy and different things going on, but children shouldn't have to suffer. This should be at the top of your priority list" said Wiggins.

The Department of Health and Human Services said the pay raise was to prevent Vellucci from leaving the position. It said his expertise is critical to NC Fast.

As for the backlogs, DHHS asked for patience, saying it knew "the implementation of this project would be difficult due to the complexity of the system."

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