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Tue April 15, 2014
Federal Government Warns Georgia Food Stamp Program, Also Notes Progress
Georgia continues to remain at risk for losing millions of dollars in federal funding due to an application backlog and other issues with its food stamp program. The federal government issued a formal warning letter to the state yesterday but is also recognizing the state’s progress.
After recently processing all but 45 of the more than 30,000 overdue applications that were supposed to be completed by the end of March, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says Georgia has made “meaningful gains.” But the Department says the state didn’t meet the March deadline. In the meantime, thousands of additional cases became overdue.
As a result, federal officials say if Georgia does not meet timely federal processing requirements or submit a revised Corrective Action Plan within 30 days, it could lose up to $15 million dollars in federal funding as early as May 14. But the letter also says based on the state’s progress if Georgia submits a thorough Corrective Action Plan it will likely avoid the suspension of federal funds. Ashley Fielding is director of legislative affairs and communications for the Georgia Department of Human Services says the state sees the letter as an encouraging sign.
“We believe the letter really speaks for itself with regards to the USDA’s confidence that Georgia can correct the situation. That letter recognizes the significant strides that our staff has made over the last 5 to 6 weeks. That letter demonstrates that the feds see our progress, and they want to make sure that process continues”
The federal government also agreed to a partial waiver. The waiver will allow the state to postpone interviews for some of the neediest applicants with overdue cases, so they can receive benefits more quickly. The waiver is effective immediately and goes through July 31st.