Food banks affected by system delays for food stamps

ROWAN COUNTY, N.C. — A delay with the state's food stamp program is hurting local food banks as well as local families.

Rowan County's Department of Social Services said about 950 families have gone without food stamps for several weeks now due to system delays.

About 30 families have been waiting longer than that.

Volunteers stocked the shelves Monday at Rowan Helping Ministries, but they said the food is disappearing fast.

"Very much so," said volunteer Harold Morris. "Every Monday we come in here, there's usually a shelf that's empty."

The center's director, Kyna Grubb, said she's seen a 20 percent spike in the number of people requesting food for their families.

She said it's due to the state's conversion to a new electronic benefits system which has caused thousands of people to go weeks without food stamps.

"Any gap -- a week, a day, without food -- is a challenge for a family," Grubb said.

Rowan Helping Ministries said the problem has been exacerbated by increasing unemployment numbers in the county.

The county has added more than 600 people to the unemployment rolls since April.

Staff and volunteers like Morris have been asking for help from the public. He said his wife is helping make requests for food.

"I let her know we're out of soup, we're out of jelly, and she hits Facebook with it," Morris said.

Food banks say they were given a heads-up about delays by DSS. The director of Rowan County DSS said food service delays could be resolved by February.

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