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Alaska Faces Backlog In Processing Food Stamp Benefits

Alaska falls short of processing applications for people seeking food stamp benefits from a year. 

November 9, 2023

An Alaska state agency faces a new backlog while processing applications for the people seeking food stamp benefits more than a year after it has fallen behind. 

The current backlog of new and returning applications is nearly 6000. The Alaska Division of Public Assistance, led by Deb Etheridge, addressed a backlog in applications, where some Alaskans waited up to 11 months for benefits from the federally funded Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). This led to the creation of a new system to expedite the process.

The officials from the U.S. Food and Nutrition Service directed the Alaska State Agency to prioritize the older applications even if it delays the new applications. The interviews and income verifications have also been resumed which were waived off earlier. 

Despite not being as long as those during the original backlog, the current delays are still affecting Alaskans. 

The Alaska Division of Public Assistance experienced significant delays that became public last year after reports surfaced of thousands of Alaskans waiting months for food stamps and other benefits. Following these reports, Deb Etheridge assumed leadership of the agency, a lawsuit was filed concerning the delays, and the state received warnings about possible federal penalties.

The officials blamed the backlog on cascading events along with staffing and technology issues within the state health department. 

The division is doing its efforts to avoid longer delays such as hiring more eligibility technicians. But the progress has been slow. 

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US News. “Alaska Faces New Backlog in Processing Food Stamp Benefits After Clearing Older Applications”. US News, October 30, 2023, 

Alaska Faces New Backlog in Processing Food Stamp Benefits After Clearing Older Applications (usnews.com)

Last Updated: September 20, 2021