When Governor Pat McCrory heard about NC FAST, he says the system didn't exactly inspire confidence in him. Now, many people who rely on food stamps are sharing the Governor's feelings.
"First of all I just want to let you know that when we began NC FAST we inherited that system from a previous administration - previous legislature and we were even concerned it wouldn't work at all" the Governor told WBTV.
The program is designed as a single data base to determine a person's eligibility for all possible benefits. But glitches have led to backlogs - and many who received food stamps are having to turn to food pantries for help.
The Governor says he's not surprised the state is having issues implementing the program.
"Part of the problem is a lot of field people are yet to be trained in the implementation of NC FAST program in the 100 counties throughout North Carolina" Governor McCrory says. "And we're trying to get them trained as quick as possible. Many of them did not take advantage of the training opportunities during roll out."
On Monday, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services announced the state is "hiring more than 160 temporary workers onto the NC FAST team to help current support staff that have been deployed to the counties." The state says there will at least one support staff in every county.
State officials say "all counties have been given the option to send outstanding cases to Raleigh, where specially trained DHHS team has begun processing and entering them into the NC FAST system."
The Director of Mecklenburg County DSS Economic Services Division says his workers completed training, and were handling the NC FAST until "mainly it's been system issues."
Rodney Adams says "there was a system glitch. The system began to become sporadic for about two and half weeks."
The county hired 55 temporary workers, and paid overtime to regular staff to bring the backlog current.
Adams says in Mecklenburg County, "we've already started processing October issuances so October customers shouldn't see the same level of impact barring any continued system issues."
But other counties are still trying to solve the problem of NC FAST.
Governor McCrory admits the program "still has some bugs in it but we're moving as quickly as possible."
Some North Carolinians say they're the one paying the price for program glitches. They say they're having to make difficult decisions.
A Gaston County resident wrote to WBTV saying "This shouldn't be happening. I shouldn't have to choose between the light bill, the rent, or buying food."
"Why is this acceptable? I know people think those of us on EBT are dumb and lazy, but I assure you I am neither."
Someone else said "WBTV please help cover this story so children can eat."
Another email said "if prisoners and people in jail went without food one day there would be a public outcry. But not for the working poor who pay taxes. Please, report."
The Governor says "we're doing everything we can to work with 100 counties to make sure the roll out goes as smooth as possible."
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