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Federal Government Warns NC Again About Food Stamp Delays

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The federal government is once again warning North Carolina about delays in processing food stamp applications. It's the state health department's latest headache related to NC FAST, an online processing system for food stamps and other public assistance.

North Carolina health leaders rolled out NC FAST two years ago. It's supposed to become a one-stop shop for food stamps, Medicaid and other public assistance. But problems with the rollout led to thousands of low-income families waiting months to get food stamps.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees food stamps, says backlogs like that are no longer a problem. But in a letter last week, the department told North Carolina health leaders they're still processing about 15 percent of food stamp applications too slowly.

The letter gives the state a month to respond with a detailed plan. A spokeswoman for the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services says the state will work with federal officials to solve the problem.