North Carolina is two weeks away from a federal deadline to resolve some of its longest food stamp delays. The U.S. Department of Agriculture oversees the food stamp program, and it's giving the state certain benchmarks to meet by February 10.
Thousands of low-income families in North Carolina are having to wait months to get food stamps. That's because of major problems with the online system for food stamp applications the state rolled out last year, called NC FAST.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has called those delays "completely unacceptable." And in a letter on January 23, it laid out what the state needs to do by February 10th:
-Get rid of the backlog of expedited applications. Those are supposed to take only seven days, but the state currently has nearly 9,000 of them that have taken longer.
-Complete all the regular applications that have been pending for more than three months. The state currently has more than 5,000 of those.
-And finish all the food stamp renewals that have been pending for more than three months. There are about 400 of those.
If the state doesn't meet the February 10 deadline, the Department of Agriculture will issue a formal warning that's one step closer to suspending the state's administrative funding for the program.