Families Waiting Longer for Food Stamps, Applications Up 97% in Mesa County

By: Jessica Zartler Email
By: Jessica Zartler Email

Families applying for food stamps are waiting longer for help. Colorado ranked 52nd in the nation for timeliness and in Mesa County, only 56 percent of people applying for assistance get it in a timely manner.

As unemployment rises and families lose their incomes, they're turning to the county to apply for food stamps.

Federal guidelines say they should get help in less than 30 days
but that guideline has not been met in Colorado.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, families are waiting 20 to 40 percent longer across the state.

Karen Martsolf with the Mesa County Department of Human Services says it's a sign of the times.

"With more and more people coming in trying to process applications every single day the case workers are struggling to keep up," Martsolf told 11 News on Monday.

She says application in Mesa County have nearly doubled since last year from just over 340 to just over 770 and Martsolf says only about half will qualify.

"Unfortunately those folks are waiting in the same line with people who do ultimately qualify, so that's what's making it difficult to process the food stamp applications in a timely manner," said Martsolf.

The department blames the skyrocketing numbers and a computer system that is hard to work with for the slow response. The Department of Human Services says it's working as fast as it can and has a back up plan.

"Food banks, Catholic Outreach--there are many programs and services in place in mesa county that can help right now while you're waiting for your paperwork to be processed."

Even though case workers say their computer system is tricky, there are no plans by the state to change the system.

If you would like more information on applying for food stamps click on the link below.

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