‘It’s a struggle’: Georgians report SNAP benefits delay as state works to resolve backlog

By October, the state had more than 123,000 SNAP renewals still pending, internal emails show
Some Georgia families are struggling to put food on the table as they wait to receive their delayed SNAP benefits.
Published: Nov. 16, 2023 at 6:09 PM EST
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ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - Some Georgia families are struggling to put food on the table as they wait to receive their delayed SNAP benefits.

As we approach the holiday season, the Georgia Department of Human Services (DHS) said they’re working to resolve the backlog.

This is not the first time Georgians have experienced a delay in receiving critical food assistance. In June, DHS said they were actively hiring to fill positions to get all applications and renewals processed quicker.

But delays continue.

Internal emails obtained by Atlanta News First through a records request with DHS show that by October, the state had 123,678 SNAP renewals still pending.

Cashonda Jackson said this holiday season her focus is not on presents, but simply putting food on the table for her young children.

“I really don’t know how to provide for them. I’m doing my best,” Jackson said. “It’s very hard trying to provide food for the four of them, with an autistic child that has particular food that he would like to eat.”

She’s one of many Georgians who say they’ve been waiting several months to receive SNAP benefits.

Atlanta News First has received a handful of calls and emails from people, including seniors, with similar stories.

In a statement, DHS said:

“As we approach the holidays, we are continuing to work tirelessly to eliminate the backlog, and to improve output to ensure we are more able to respond to substantive changes in application/renewal volume moving forward. Any customer in need of immediate food assistance can visit dhs.ga.gov and find a list of community resources at the top of our homepage.”

The agency said part of the delay is tied to the increase in SNAP applications they receive when children return to school each fall.

DHS also said they’re taking steps to resolve the backlog, especially concerning staffing and caseworkers.

The agency said some of those steps include offering overtime to expand the capacity of their caseworkers and bringing back retired caseworkers to help process renewals.

Those efforts were also confirmed in internal emails obtained by Atlanta News First.

Cashonda said she just wants to know when she’ll receive her food assistance so she has confidence she can feed her family.

“Right now, I am just reaching out to Community Action for help, family members,” she said. “It’s a struggle for everyone, so it’s really hard right now, it’s really hard.”

DHS said they also continue to explore ways to secure more flexibility from federal regulators to process cases quicker.

Atlanta News First asked DHS if SNAP benefits will be delayed for the rest of the year.

In an email, DHS said, “There have been some internal projections for eliminating the SNAP backlog, but all of those are subject to change.”