EL PASO COUNTY — Thousands of families in El Paso County are awaiting food stamp recertification in order to put food on the table.
The El Paso County Department of Human Services (DHS) said each recipient must reapply for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) every six months. The department said right now 2,000 applications are waiting to be processed.
Karen Logan, the economic and administrative services director for the department, said the backlog is because of a significant increase in applications from the beginning of the year and not enough staff to process them.
"We have some staff that are exceeding more than 20 hours a week in overtime. All of our supervisors, all of our managers are working extra hours as well into the evenings and weekends to try and process benefits," she said.
Logan said before the pandemic, staff was able to process SNAP recertification applications within 30 days. Now, that wait time is up to 60 days, leaving some people without food stamps for a month.
Krista Daniel, a Colorado Springs resident, said she relies on food stamps to feed her 12-year-old son. She said she turned in the paperwork to recertify her benefits by the deadline but has been waiting for certification and without food stamps for over a month.
"So many people are on food stamps. It affects so many different people," she said. "I'm surprised that no one else is saying more or asking more questions as to why it's not being taken care of sooner."
She said she called DHS multiple times about the wait but said the answers she received were not helpful.
"Just the same, the same thing. It's delayed and they're short-staffed. It's hard to get ahold of people because they handle so many different cases," she said.
Logan said the department is trying to hire more staff but it takes about six months to train someone to handle a full caseload.
She said those awaiting SNAP benefit recertification should double-check that all necessary documents are submitted. She said having all of that information could allow the department to waive a phone interview and process the application faster. You can check the status of your benefits or upload additional documentshere.
Watch KOAA News5 on your time, anytime with our free streaming app available for your Roku, FireTV, AppleTV and Android TV. Just search KOAA News5, download and start watching.