Food stamp issues remain for thousands in Guilford County

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GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Food stamp issues continue to baffle and frustrate needy heads of households in Greensboro.

46,000 households in Guilford County use Food and Nutrition Services through the Department of Social Services. Many of those customers have contacted FOX8 after not receiving their benefits for two months.

According to Guilford County DSS spokesman Steve Hayes, the problems facing the program now are different from those that caused many to go without food stamps in the last year.

Guilford County was part of a four-county pilot program for the new NC FAST system, which keeps track of food and nutrition services customers. Those issues had almost been fixed when the North Carolina Department of Social Services began to add Medicaid questions to the survey customers must take when re-certifying for benefits.

The federal government requires recipients to re-certify every six months.

"New applications have been fine," Hayes said. "It's the re-certifications that are causing trouble."

At times, Hayes said, the program will lock up and freeze a computer. This has been happening since July 13, leading to a two-month backlog of cases that still need to be keyed into the system so that recipients can be re-certified and keep receiving benefits.

Guilford County DSS employs 26 case workers to keep track of $12 million in benefits due to 46,000 households. The county has not added additional staff since 2008 due to budget cuts. In that time, the number of households on food stamps has increased from 28,000 to 46,000.

"I don't know how long it's going to last because I can't write [computer] code," Hayes said.

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