Tampa Bay mom’s SNAP benefits set to be renewed after 47 days; community steps in to help

8 On Your Side

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A Tampa Bay area mom went without food assistance benefits for weeks. Now, 8 On Your Side is getting results.

For the first time since November 4, this mother has received new funds for groceries.

“It’s really hard; I don’t have snacks for them,” said the mom.

The local mom is 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 of three relies on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, to feed her family.

In November, her SNAP benefits expired.

For weeks, she says she tried to renew them, but when her application lingered and the balance on her benefit card hit zero, she got desperate.

“The representative at DCF tells me that they are backlogged,” she said.

We asked the Florida Department of Children and Families, which administers SNAP, about the benefits backlog.

A spokeswoman said in part: “The Department continues to meet the 30-day federal standard for processing applications.”

But at at the time, this mom had waited 41 days.

Her story broke Pastor Pam DeDea’s heart.

“I was like oh my goodness, what can our church do to help this lady?” DeDea said. “So I immediately went to my church council.”

United Methodist Temple in Lakeland doesn’t hand out cash to individuals. They find their dollars reach more people when they partner with community organizations.

But after an emergency meeting, this one time, the church council made an exception.

They raised funds to get a grocery store gift card for this mother.

“Tell her that our church is praying for her and that all will work out well for her and her children” said Pastor DeDea.

8 On Your Side contacted DCF to get this mother’s benefits renewed again on Tuesday.

We also told her about DeDea.

“What a blessing,” said the mother. “That is definitely going to help me, my kids will have a home cooked meal tonight. There’s still good people and bless that church.”

The pastor stepped in to help, but the state has also resolved this mother’s issue.

She tells 8 On Your Side she got a call from DCF, and her food assistance benefits will be renewed on Wednesday.

Meantime, United Methodist Temple in Lakeland will be holding a massive food drive later this year.

The KidsPACK food drive is May 8 through May 15.

You can find the latest details posted on on the church’s website here.

Here is the full statement from DCF about the alleged benefits backlog:

Customers are encouraged to utilize the Department’s Self-Service Portal to make changes or check the status of their benefits. The Self-Service Portal is available online 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Additionally, the Department of Children and Families’ (DCF) virtual assistant stands ready to assist clients by providing case information and answering benefit questions.

DCF staff have been diligently working to process applications and recertifications as quickly as possible. The Department continues to meet the 30-day federal standard for processing applications.

If you’ve been waiting more than 30 days for your benefits to be renewed, send an email to Investigator Mahsa Saeidi at MSaeidi@WFLA.com. She is working to respond to each email as soon as possible.

Copyright 2022 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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