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Feds: NC has made 'significant strides' in food stamps backlog

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RALEIGH, N.C. - A federal administrator said North Carolina has “made significant strides” in providing services to families in need of food stamps, according to a letter dated April 15.

The letter, from Regional Administrator Robin Bailey Jr. with the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Atlanta, is addressed to Dr. Aldona Wos, secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

In the letter, Bailey said the Food and Nutrition Service had reviewed the state’s reports and said DHHS “has met the requirement to reduce its backlog.”

The letter said the federal government would continue to monitor the state’s progress and that the state needed to provide weekly reports on its progress.

The issue had been a key one for North Carolina, where DHHS had struggled to provide services to North Carolinians in need.

In February, Wos told a General Assembly oversight committee that North Carolina had met a deadline to eliminate a large backlog of delayed food stamp applications that threatened the loss of funds to administer the program. But that claim would be reviewed by federal officials.


Wos, at the time, told legislators that county social services offices, state workers and volunteers worked long hours to process more than 20,000 applications and renewals by this week's deadline.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture told DHHS in late January that it needed to complete all backlogged benefits applications of more than 90 days by Monday or face the loss of $88 million in federal funding the state receives annually to manage the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

"We have successfully achieved our first milestone with the USDA," Wos told a legislative oversight committee, adding that "DHHS has worked tirelessly and took unprecedented steps to get the job done."

"Our staff worked every day to reduce that massive backlog," Wos said. The USDA also told the state to complete backlogged applications subject to expedited processing.

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