Tampa Bay area mom reports delay in obtaining SNAP benefits, warns others to start recertification process now

8 On Your Side

TAMPA (WFLA) – It’s a program that many in the Tampa Bay area rely on to keep food on the table.  But a local mom told 8 On Your Side when her SNAP benefits didn’t arrive, it put her entire family at risk of going hungry.

The family’s mother, who has fallen on hard times, did not want 8 On Your Side to reveal their identity. But still, she says she wanted to share her story to warn neighbors who rely on these nutrition assistance benefits.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP helps lower income families buy food.

If you qualify, cash is placed on a reloadable card for groceries. In Florida, the federal initiative is run by the Department of Children and Families.

8 On Your Side is looking into a potential benefits delay after the local mom says this month, the state did not refill her card.

“I probably have about 50 dollars on there,” said the woman in a phone interview. “It kind of panics you, you think it’s going to be January before you have any food.”

The problem popped up during the reapproval process.

To keep getting benefits, you have to prove you still need help by providing pay stubs for example.

In a phone interview, the mom tells 8 On Your Side she’s done everything right. But the money isn’t showing up and when she calls the Florida Snap Hotline, she says no one is picking up.

“I did my renewal early in the first two days of November,” she said. “You can call and be on hold for three hours and then, it will just shut you off.”

Last week, 8 On Your Side reached out to the state. The mom says a rep called her and sorted out the problem.

Right now, the money is back on her card, but so far, the state has not provided us with a comment.

On Monday, 8 On Your Side left a message with a DCF spokesperson asking if this was an isolated incident.

Meanwhile, the mom worries that she may not be the only one in this situation and wants to warn neighbors to start working on the recertification of benefits now.

“I’m in a very low-income neighborhood,” she said. “I’m concerned because I have so many friends in the community that are single moms. They count on this.”

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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