DCF delays SNAP benefits for thousands in Florida

The struggle for people trying to get Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits could be another effect of the worker shortage.

Thousands of Floridians are worried that soon their shelves will be empty if the government doesn’t start hiring people to help them out. Some people told FOX 35 News their shelves are already empty. It’s the people who need help the most who now have nowhere to turn.

"There was actually a notice there that my benefits were being terminated," said David Mtetwa, of Plant City.

Mtetwa learned earlier this month he lost his SNAP benefits, including food stamps. He re-certified them but says the state Department of Children and Families never completed the process. He’s one of many Floridians losing benefits because of delays at DCF. 

"I was three hours waiting for this phone call and I never receive a callback," said Yessica Santos, of Orlando.

As part of the recertification process, DCF has to interview applicants. But lately, that’s not happening, so they’re reaching out to their representative for help.

"DCF has to call them, right?" a FOX 35 reporter asked State Representative Anna Eskamani.

"Correct, and there have been times when interviews have been scheduled and nobody calls," said Eskamani, D-Orlando.

Representatives from DCF admitted to staffing shortages at a recent Senate committee hearing. 

"We’ve seen increased vacancies or turnover and a shortage of qualified or willing candidates for many of our critical class positions."

According to their own data, 25% of their Economic Self Sufficiency positions are vacant, and call center positions are 37% vacant. Their website is advertising call center job openings. But Floridians who are also without work are now also going hungry. 

"There’s absolutely no reason whatsoever that anybody should have to go hungry. I’m sorry. There are no explanations for that," said Mtetwa.

FOX 35 reached out to DCF and was told they would get back to us with a response.  We had not received a response before the publication of this article.

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