TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — 8 On Your Side continues to fight for families going hungry across the Tampa Bay area. Hundreds who say their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits just stopped coming have turned to Investigator Mahsa Saeidi for help.
Single moms, retired veterans and the elderly are among those Floridians whose renewal application became buried in a months-long backlog.
The lack of SNAP benefits has left some kids on the verge of hunger.
“My 7-year-old cries. He breaks my heart because he says ‘mom, I’m hungry,’ and he goes to bed hungry sometimes,” said Amanda Bowen, a mother of two in Pasco County.
The Florida Department of Children and Families administers SNAP benefits. We’ve repeatedly reached out to Secretary Shevaun Harris. Her office denies there’s a backlog, claiming they’re processing applications within 30 days.
At the same time, Secretary Harris went before state lawmakers last month to discuss a worker shortage: one in four positions is vacant in the division that processes the benefits.
When Gov. Ron DeSantis made a stop in the Tampa Bay area on Tuesday morning, 8 On Your Side informed him of the benefits backlog and asked what he is doing about it.
“So we’ll talk to the secretary about that. They’ve got massive amounts of stuff that’s going on that they’re processing across a whole wide range of issues,” DeSantis said. “But we want to get them processed. So we’ll work with them and see how they can expedite it. It’s important for people.”
8 On Your Side will keep putting pressure on the governor’s office to make sure these benefits get renewed.