Changes could reduce delays for food stamp recipients

Michael Lopardi

Changes could reduce delays for food stamp recipients

CREATED May. 21, 2013

Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- People who rely on food stamps said they are still dealing with delays at Nevada welfare offices, but Action News has learned some changes could be in store.

The latest issue involves a Valley family who said they did everything right only to learn they may have to go without benefits for months.

"Everything in here I got from the church," said Jennifer of Las Vegas, a food stamp recipient who opened her freezer door to show what's inside.

The freezer has about two weeks worth of food left but Jennifer is worried about what will happen when the shelves go empty.

"It's really hard to feed me and my kids and my husband because I'm having to look at other resources to be able to feed us," she said.

The family has relied on food stamps for years.

"Ever since the economy crashed in 2008, we have struggled to be able to feed the family," Jennifer said.

Jennifer said she submitted her renewal application in person about two weeks before the due date. She said she was told by the welfare office this week that she could have to wait up to 60 days before receiving the next round of funds.

"I'm sitting here 20 days after my food stamps were supposed to appear and they're not here yet," said Jennifer.

Action News started investigating complaints about delays and people struggling to get their benefits going back to last year. Last winter, we heard from others who ran into busy signals or long hold times trying to contact their local welfare offices. Those problems were blamed on an old phone system that struggles to handle the calls.

The Nevada Division of Welfare and Supportive Services said the delays are not new, given the volume of cases the agency is handling. But changes could come by this fall.

The agency is working with a contractor to find ways to do things more efficiently in hopes of reducing the delays, said spokeswoman Miki Allard in an email. Those changes could be implemented at four offices in Clark County by September, she said. People who need help immediately can contact 211 to learn about other resources available.

Meanwhile, Gov. Brian Sandoval recommended roughly $2.1 million in funding to replace the agency's old phone system in his latest budget. Lawmakers have yet to approve the division's funding for the next two years but Allard said it's likely the phone request will be approved before the end of the current legislative session.