Food stamp delay affecting families in Clayton County - New York News

Food stamp delay affecting families in Clayton County

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CLAYTON COUNTY, Ga. -

A major backlog in Clayton County has many families struggling to put food on the table.

Georgia Division of Family and Children Services officials say they're scrambling to process food stamp applications, but the delay means families are waiting weeks for their benefits.  

Kelly Higginbotham said that she has her hands full caring for the needs of her 4-year-old daughter Alyssa, who has Cerebral Palsy. Kelly said that she can only work part-time for now and the last thing she can afford to worry about is putting food on the table.

"I'm a single mom. I raise my daughter by myself. I don't get any child support at all," said Higginbotham.

That's why Kelly, 25, has grown increasingly anxious and frustrated waiting for her food stamp benefits. The mother from Rex says she was scheduled to receive the funds on July 10, but after multiple trips to the DFACS office in Jonesboro, and several unanswered calls to the main number, she's still waiting for her $367 allotment.

"That was more than enough for me and daughter to support us every month. Now that I don't have anything right now, I have to go out of pocket and buy food with what I usually pay my bills with," said Higginbotham.

Cathy Ratti, a regional director for DFACS, says the backlog in processing June applications is causing major delays for about 400 Clayton County families.

Ratti says the goal is to get caught up with June applications by July 31 and, while she said that she can't guarantee the delays won't roll over into next month, she says the staff is doing what they can to get benefits to eligible candidates.

"We are going to do everything possible to get food on their table," said Ratti.

The DFACS spokeswoman points out that thousands of applications have been processed in Clayton County, and says once the backlog of 400 applications is resolved, it will take an additional 48 hours for the benefits to be loaded onto food stamp cards.

In the meantime, she says the staff is working with food banks and churches to collect food for clients who were previously qualified so that they won't have to wait much longer for the basic food necessities.

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