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'NC Fast' food stamp delays continue

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TWC News: 'NC Fast' food stamp delays continue
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RALEIGH -- Some North Carolinians say they are still waiting months for food stamps under the state's "N.C. Fast" program. The system was recently updated online, but the process has state and county officials scrambling to remedy the problem.

Morrisville resident Carol Kidwell hasn't received food stamps since April.

"I sent in my recertification information. I cannot reach my case worker. Her voicemail is continuously full," said Kidwell.

And with a 15-year-old daughter to feed she can't keep waiting.

"I can't afford to not have that $300 a month to be able to purchase food because then I'm unable to purchase toiletries and other things for the house," said Kidwell.

This week she drove to Raleigh to get groceries at the food pantry. As the delays with the state's new NC Fast system continue so has the increase in people being served at Catholic Parish Outreach.

"We often run out of fresh produce cause we're seeing more clients. So clients are getting a little bit less food than what they would've gotten last year at this time," said Catholic Parish Outreach program director Terry Foley.

"We are putting all available resources behind making sure we're helping counties implement the N.C. FAST system especially as we gear up toward the next phase of N.C. FAST implementation around the state," said DHHS communications director Ricky Diaz.

The next phase for the case management system is Medicaid eligibility, which will start in October as mandated by the Affordable Care Act. Diaz says 160 people have been added to the staff to help work with counties on N.C. Fast. For people like Kidwell, who is on Medicaid, there's concern the delays might get worse when the next phase starts.

"I just can't imagine if people are struggling so hard with food stamps there's no way they can add on medical bills," said Kidwell.

"Counties and the state are working in partnership together to make sure people are getting their benefits on time," said Diaz.

The Department of Health and Human Services says they processed over 800,000 applications in August and paid out more than $200 million in food stamps to people across North Carolina.

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