New reports and internal emails between the state’s SNAP officials indicate that many Georgia recipients who have been State officials initially worried that the narrowly avoided government shutdown would pose a problem to getting SNAP benefits to on hold for months may not see those payments for Food assistance until the end of January 2024.
More than 100,000 Georgians have been waiting and desperately hoping to receive payment in time for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, but hope is dwindling for those in need. And although the shutdown didn’t happen, the year-long backlog for processing applications and payments has resulted in a major delay for SNAP or food assistance benefits which were due out this month.
SNAP, which stands for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, is a federal assistance program that provides eligible low-income individuals and families with funds to purchase food. In Georgia, the administration of SNAP is handled by the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS), which is part of the Georgia Department of Human Services.
Claims and assistance for approved claims are also slow to be addressed as staffing shortages in local offices contribute to the state’s inability to get payments out in a timely manner. The lack of advanced technology is also complicating matters as state officials are concerned that AI and bots could worsen the situation.
“SNAP helps families put nutritious food on the table. When SNAP benefits are delayed or taken away, it does real harm,” Ty Jones, Vice President for Food Assistance for the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, said. “A mom may be forced to choose between paying the bills and feeding her family. A child may go to bed hungry. And over time we know that not getting enough nutritious food to eat affects a child’s health and how well they do in school.”
In early September, state officials received a letter from the USDA Food and Nutrition Service and federal regulators expressing their concern about Georgia’s administration of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, which serves the nutrition needs of low-income families. The letter indicates the state is not meeting federal requirements and includes recommendations to address the backlog amid concerns the issue will continue through the fall.