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Food stamps delayed across Colorado

6:09 PM, Nov 10, 2010   |    comments
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Last month, 9NEWS reported on the backlog in Weld County. There, people reapplying for food stamps had to wait days, if not weeks, to receive them.

9NEWS has since learned that Weld County is not an isolated case. Larimer County and several Denver-metro counties are also late in handing out food stamps.

The delay could affect thousands of people during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.

According to several Human Services administrators, the cause of the problem is twofold. The lagging economy has produced a spike in demand for aid and the statewide computer system used to process applicants remains sluggish and temperamental.

In Larimer County, for example, the number of people requesting food stamps is up 67 percent over two years.

"How do you deal with such an increase in volume with the same amount of resources?" Ginny Riley, director for Larimer County Department of Human Services, asked.

Weld County Commissioner Dave Long attributes the lag time to the Colorado Benefits Management System (CBMS).

"The way you have to input all the information creates the problem," he said.

Tammy Ransom cares less about the cause of the problem and more about its effect. She has been on food stamps since August.

"I'm in a household of six people and it's very important," Ransom said. "I mean, we buy for the month and when the month is over with you look forward to getting your food stamps for the next month. Anytime there is a glitch with it, you get upset."

Food banks have picked up the slack in many places. The Weld Food Bank is encouraging everyone waiting for food stamps to shop with them.

Different counties are taking different measures to address the backlogs. Weld County pulled people from the phones for several days to process claims. Larimer County is moving its resources back and forth between new claims and renewals.

Still, both Long and Riley say unless demand declines and the computer system is redesigned, staying current on food stamp claims will remain a tall order.

(KUSA-TV © 2010 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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