Dozens of Tampa Bay families report delays in obtaining SNAP food assistance benefits

8 On Your Side

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Just before Christmas, dozens of families are finding out their SNAP food benefits cards are empty.

Earlier this week, 8 On Your Side was able to quickly solve that dilemma for one woman. After that story aired, we discovered it’s a much bigger problem.

Charlie and Wendy Dean rely on food banks. The St. Pete couple has been eating peanut butter sandwiches since September.

They say that’s when the state abruptly cut off their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, benefits. The $54 a month that made a difference.

“Just stopped – oh, pull it back, take it away. Why? don’t know,” said Charlie Dean. “Give us a reason. Any reason in the world.”

The Deans say they can’t get through when they call the Florida SNAP Hotline.

“She’s done everything she can to try to get a hold of people and nobody wants to respond,” Charlie Dean said.

8 On Your Side’s first report on a potential benefits backlog aired on Monday. Almost immediately, other families started to email us with similar stories.

They all claim their financial situation has not changed and yet, the Florida Department of Children and Families, which runs SNAP, stopped providing benefits.

It appears many times, the problem is popping up during the re-approval process. Every few months, families are required to prove they still need help.

Since last week, we’ve been calling and emailing DCF. Right now, we’re still waiting for an explanation.

“After I pay bills, I’ve got about 100 bucks a month left. Now how far do you think $100 a month goes?” Charlie Dean said.

If you qualify for SNAP benefits but the money has stopped showing up on your card, please send an email to 8 On Your Side Investigator Mahsa Saeidi at MSaeidi@WFLA.com.

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