DENVER (KDVR) – Tens of thousands of residents in the City and County of Denver rely on food assistance programs, but some recipients have not been getting their monthly SNAP benefits on time as of late.
An active EBT card is reloaded on a monthly basis, but some have been waiting longer than usual wondering, ”What’s the hold-up?” FOX31 Problem Solvers went straight to the source to get answers.
Officials with Denver Human Services have acknowledged the delays but they also have said that it’s only a specific group experiencing the delays in service.
Inside the Richard T. Castro building on Federal Boulevard, you’ll find employees hard at work. Kierra Adcock has been an Eligibility Technician for nine years and when people apply for SNAP benefits, her job is to process applications. Over the last year, she has noticed a dramatic difference when compared to years gone by.
“We’re getting a lot more applications,” Adcock said. “The more cases we process, the more families we are feeding every day.”
SNAP applications see a big increase
Adcock shared that both electronic and paper applications have skyrocketed over the last year. As applications continue to fly in, employees like Adcock have been working double-time, knowing that each application is a request for help to put food on the table.
“We are working overtime to get your benefits processed. These are not just applications, these are not just papers that we’re pushing around, these are families,” Adcock said. “This is our community. We are just trying to make everybody happy and healthy.”
Denver Human Services representative Victoria Aguilar told FOX31 that roughly 100,000 Denver residents are signed up to receive SNAP benefits, and the department has seen a 17% increase in applications when compared to 2021.
According to her, back in 2021, the number of new SNAP applications was 21,990 and now it is 25,784. She also noted that an application doesn’t solely represent one person but may represent multiple people in a household.
Aguilar feels the surge in applications is the result of a domino effect of the world we’re living in right now.
“Denver is not exempt [from] this crisis,” Aguilar said, “people are in need. Overall, we do know that we have a global affordability crisis that’s also impacting our city.” That’s where SNAP comes in.
With inflation soaring, people have been paying more at both the grocery store and the pump. Combine that with the soon-to-arrive expiration of job loss and unemployment benefits, and one could understand why people are turning to SNAP for help now more so than ever.
“We ask for your patience as we process applications as quickly as we can,” Aguilar said. “We are aware there is a delay in processing benefits.”
Who’s impacted by SNAP delays in Denver?
Aguilar went on to say that delays are isolated to redetermination applications only, which are applications used to verify recipients still qualify for benefits. She said that process typically happens every six months and includes reverifying all information including income, and an interview.
Denver Human Services had also dealt with staffing shortages like many agencies and businesses across the nation. Aguilar said they currently have 130 eligibility technicians, which is 70 people short of their normal staffing level, which has also been contributing to the delays.
However, recruitment has been looking up. Aguilar shared that 40 people were recently hired but must still complete federal and state training which takes months, but those new employees will be tackling applications when finished.
If you’re interested in becoming an eligibility technician, apply here.
FOX31 asked Aguilar when those experiencing delays should expect to receive their benefits.
“That’s a good question,” Aguilar said. “Since each case is unique, there’s not really a time frame I can provide. There are different factors that may expedite or delay further, but there’s not really a time frame I can give to you that would be accurate information.”
According to Aguilar, Denver Human Services has been seeing more people wanting to keep their benefits and have found a way to expedite new and at-risk applications.
If you think you’re at risk and need assistance, now call 720-944-4347.