Georgia promises to catch up on SNAP benefit backlog before Thanksgiving

A smiling family toasting their drinks while seated around a holiday table filled with food.

Image source: Getty Images

A Georgia resident said yesterday his family had nothing to eat this Thanksgiving.

Important points

  • Georgia has defaulted on SNAP renewal applications and some households have not received their benefits.
  • Today the state announced that it had paid the outstanding money, but some Georgians complained that the payments hadn’t arrived.
  • If you can’t afford to buy groceries, look for emergency relief in the form of pantries or soup kitchens.

Thanksgiving is usually a time of great celebration and abundance. But the rising cost of living means some households will find it difficult to give it their all this year. This is even more true for certain Georgia families who, as of yesterday, had not received their SNAP benefits for weeks or even months.

Georgia’s SNAP backlog

SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) pays food grants to low-income families and has been a lifeline for some households in recent years. Unfortunately, the Georgia Department of Human Services (DHS), which administers the state’s SNAP benefits, has had trouble managing the volume of renewal applications.

As a result, as of yesterday, some families still had not received their money. A Georgian woman wrote on the DHS Facebook page that she tried to call but did not receive any information about her renewal. “I have little to eat,” she said. “My family doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving on Thursday.”

A DHS spokesman blamed inflation and labor shortages. The state has scrambled to ensure families receive money today so they don’t go hungry on Thanksgiving. Last week the government approved a waiver that meant applications could be processed faster.

At 11:40am today, the department’s social media feeds urged recipients to check their accounts as benefits had been paid out. “SNAP benefits have been filed for customers with pending renewals from August through October 2022 who have completed their filing on time,” it said. The news was greeted with gratitude by some people, while others complained that they still hadn’t received their money.

What to do if you have trouble putting food on the table?

Not being able to buy groceries or pay your bills is difficult at the best of times. Even more so at times like Thanksgiving, when families want to do something special for their loved ones. Here are some possible avenues of support.

Look for a local pantry or soup kitchen

Pantries and soup kitchens distribute the food collected at boards. There is a high demand for food services at the moment, so come as early as possible and be patient. Find out what’s available near you, when each location is open, and how it works. Some pantries may ask for ID, but you’re unlikely to need to provide proof of income.

According to Feeding America, over 53 million people have received food supplies assistance in 2021, and the charity is running a drive to help those in need during the holiday season. Look online for special food programs for Thanksgiving or Christmas.

Call 2-1-1 or visit the United Way website

United Way has a vast database of local resources and support services and can help people get help with housing, feeding or other basic needs. The confidential phone line operates 24 hours a day and service could be a valuable first step if you don’t know where your next meal is coming from.

See if you can get some breathing room with other bills

It’s not a long-term solution, but if you don’t have money in your bank account to buy groceries, try to see if there are any bills to push further down. For example, if you haven’t asked for an extension to your electric bill yet, call the company and see if you can make that payment next month or even agree to a payment plan.

Calculate which bills are due in the coming weeks and prioritize things like housing, food and healthcare. If you can’t make certain payments, talk to the company and see if you can work with them to find a solution. Missing payments can prove costly and hurt your credit score, and these conversations could help minimize the damage.

Look for help

SNAP isn’t the only food aid program out there. If you are a pregnant woman or have young children, see if you can get additional help from the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). WIC aims to help low-income women who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or have children under the age of 5 access food and health services.

There is also the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program that can help with energy costs. If you recently lost your job, you may be eligible for unemployment benefits. There is also the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, which individual states can use to help those in need.

bottom line

You’re not alone if you’re struggling to get food on the table this Thanksgiving holiday, whether you live in Georgia or elsewhere. Unfortunately, there are no easy answers, but try to resist the temptation to ignore the problem. The more steps you can take to actively manage the situation, the more likely you are to find a way.

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