TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – 8 On Your Side is working to get answers for Tampa Bay area families who say they’re not receiving benefits for groceries.
Earlier this week, the state said applications for food assistance were being processed within 30 days, as suggested by the federal government. But now, some families are disputing that 30 day timeline.
A mother of three tells 8 On Your Side she’s been waiting more than 30 days for benefits.
She’s not proud of the fact that she needs assistance, so she asked to not be identified. But without this help, she says her kids won’t get proper nutrition.
The mom relies on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, to feed her family.
The past 10 days have been tough. Her kids have been home for winter break and the balance on her benefits card has stayed at $0.
A screenshot from her online account shows the last time she got cash for groceries was on Nov. 4.
“It’s really hard. I don’t have snacks for them. We’re living on macaroni and cheese mostly,” she said.
A representative at the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) said that they are backlogged, but they are working as hard as they can.
For two weeks, viewers have told 8 On Your Side they’re waiting for DCF to renew SNAP benefits that have expired.
In emails, they claim they’ve properly filled out the application but the state is dragging its feet.
On Tuesday, DCF responded to the benefits backlog, stating in part: “the department continues to meet the 30-day federal standard for processing applications.”
“Has it been longer than 30 days?” asked investigator Mahsa Saeidi.
“Yes, today would be 41 days,” a DCF representative said.
“It’s just the caseworker has to go on and approve it or deny it, either one an answer would be nice,” said the mother.
The mother showed 8 On Your Side her online account. It appears she applied for renewal on Nov. 19.
That means 41 days have passed, not 30.
Right now, her application has not been approved or denied; it’s still pending.
“I really appreciate you guys taking the time to cover this story, not just for me, but for everybody,” she said.
8 On Your Side is in touch with a DCF spokeswoman about this case. We’re working to ensure this mother’s card will be refilled as soon as possible.
State workers have time off for the holiday, so the earliest this mother will be able to get an answer is on Monday.