Food stamp office processing faster

by Larry Lemmons
Newschannel 10

Amarillo, Texas - The processing time at the local food stamp office appears to be improving now that the state has hired more workers.

Since October the Health and Human Services Commission has hired sixteen people for the local office that processes food stamps, now called SNAP.

A lawsuit had been filed earlier this year with the intention of forcing food stamp offices across the state to speed up their processing.  That lawsuit was dismissed in October but the Commission got the message.

The local Human Services office hopes the thirteen new caseworkers and three clerical workers will speed up processing.

Francis Pena, Program Manager says, "Our customers are not waiting more than thirty days now at least to be seen. It's still a long ways from our goal to see them in less than twenty days, but from where we were three months ago...our customers were waiting more than six months to be seen."

But they still need to be trained. "I have a total of nine workers in training and I still need to get seventeen trained."

The pressure put on Human Services and the new employees seems to have speeded up the process according to some applicants.

Amber Bell says, "It's probably been about ten business days since I had applied and I hadn't heard anything so I called actually earlier today and they told me it would be good to come down in person."

One reason processing times have been going down is the long hours being worked by current employees.

Pena says, "We are mandating some overtime and some Saturdays."

Pena says employees are working hard because they know how important it is to get through the cases, up eleven percent from last year.