A story in Monday’s edition of the Lincoln Times-News detailed how local food banks have been hit hard by recent delays in the distribution of assistance to low-income individuals and families participating in the state’s Food and Nutrition Services program. The delay is a consequence, according to North Carolina Department of Social Services officials, of software problems in a program that was designed to streamline and consolidate information pertaining to individuals who qualify for assistance.
The result — local food banks like Christian Ministry and other organizations have seen a marked increase in demand, which has made keeping the shelves stocked a Sisyphean task. These organizations are an asset to our community, and are working as hard and as best as they can to help families that are down on their luck but, according to a quote from Christian Ministry of Lincolnton Executive Director Susan Brymer in Monday’s story, they “are not equipped to give out the same amount of food as food stamps.”
A software glitch is not an acceptable excuse for the Department of Social Services to delay assistance that many families depend upon for their survival. DSS has a responsibility to provide assistance to eligible recipients in a timely and consistent manner. If they are incapable of doing so and are rendered utterly impotent by something as simple as a software problem, the Food and Nutrition Services program should be significantly scaled back, and the tax dollars that support it should be distributed among local food banks and other assistance organizations.
In the meantime, those local assistance organizations need our help. Get in touch with Christian Ministry and other groups and ask them what they need. Pick up a few extra items at the grocery store and take them a bag of food. Volunteer an hour or two of your time.
We urge our readers to contact state representative Jason Saine and state senator David Curtis and explain to them that a software problem is not an acceptable reason for a local child to go hungry. The problem needs to be fixed now.