According to a federal complaint filed on Friday, New York City officials left tens of thousands of New Yorkers scurrying to buy groceries without their food stamps.
According to a class-action lawsuit filed in Manhattan federal court, more than half of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) applicants in December were left waiting more than a month for payments.
Anyone who qualifies for the SNAP program must get benefits within 30 days as required by federal law.
According to city data cited in the lawsuit, more than 28,000 cash aid and SNAP applications were past due as of December. 5,711 of those instances were past due and dated back to September.
After Reducing SNAP Payments In October
Since their SNAP payments were reduced in October, one plaintiff, Glennice Simon, 55, said she has been supporting herself and her kid in Brooklyn with her Supplemental Security Income check.
Simon claimed that if she has any money left over for her family after paying the rent, bills, and groceries. According to a report released in December by City Comptroller Brad Lander, the Department of Social Services, which is responsible for administering financial assistance and SNAP programs, has a 20% staff vacancy rate.
In order to help reduce the backlog of SNAP applications, the agency has over 1,700 budgeted positions that might be filled, according to a representative for the mayor's office.
2 Million New Yorkers Use SNAP To Purchase Food
Nearly 2 million residents of New York use SNAP to purchase food at supermarkets, bodegas, and farmers' markets.
The program is intended for New Yorkers who earn less than $42,000 for a family of four, or about $20,000 annually. The maximum monthly allowance for an individual is $281, or $939 for a family of four.
Abby Biberman, associate director of the Public Benefits Unit at the New York Legal Assistance Group, which is representing the plaintiffs, said that "no family should go hungry due to administrative delays they have no control over."
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