Federal officials are satisfied with how much North Carolina has reduced its food stamp backlog. The U.S. Department of Agriculture oversees the food stamp program, and it ruled late Friday on North Carolina's progress.
By the numbers, North Carolina was just short of meeting a federal deadline last week to reduce some of its worst food stamp delays. But the U.S. Department of Agriculture says the state came close enough.
Over the past month, North Carolina has nearly eliminated a backlog of more than 20,000 food stamp applications with significant delays. The delays were tied to the state's new online system for handling food stamps, called NC FAST. And they left some families waiting for more three months to get benefits.
Now almost no food stamp recipients face those kinds of waits. But the state is not off the hook yet – the Department of Agriculture still wants weekly updates on North Carolina's numbers.
Some county health officials worry the only way to keep those numbers down is to ask county staff to keep working nights and weekends.