Louisiana Food Stamp Follies!!
Here’s an update on a sore subject- how poorly New Orleanians in need are treated by the SNAP system. One of my clients who is down on his luck moved and didn’t get back to the SNAP office to tell them. Five months after his stamps started, they stopped. He went back down to the office and filled out another form. The form was mailed to Baton Rouge.
After two weeks, he went back to office to get an update on his case, as he was low on food. He was told he must wait a week or two more before getting a phone call from a case worker. Then another week or two would pass, if the SNAP application was approved. We are talking a month and a half without stamps. The system is punishing him for losing his benefits. Who can survive a six weeks without food? You have to wait a month to get a simple phone call from a counselor? The system is built to hurt my client, and that’s very very wrong.
I’m a music publisher by trade, and some of my musician clients need a little help now and then. When they apply for Food Stamps, or SNAP benefits as they are now called, it’s a very interesting process. The more I find out, the less I like the system.
For example, when the SNAP folks call for a phone interview, they call from a California area code, 616. That is very weird, why would California be involved in the Louisiana SNAP program? When you receive a letter from them, it says the phone call might not be a local call. When you call them, it is a local call. What goes on here? I really would like to know the California connection. It’s virtually impossible to reach anyone connected to the food stamp program. They obviously don’t want to hear from anyone via the telephone. It’s a broken system that is meant to annoy people, not help them.
When you are accepted for benefits, you receive a letter stating what your benefits will be. That letter is mailed from Baton Rouge or New Orleans, so it shows up fast. Your SNAP card is another story. It comes from out of state, from Texas, and takes weeks to arrive. If you need your SNAP card faster, you are out of luck. I know of an unfortunate musician who was accepted on a Wednesday, a week plus later, the following Wednesday (two weeks since applying) no card had arrived. If you are low on food when you apply, you will be mighty hungry by the time you can obtain some food. You might actually have to ask your friends and family for food help, as the state of Louisiana is very very very slow to get your card to you. BIG update!! My client went to Iberville and Claiborne to find out where his card was, and what he discovered shocked even me! No card was ever ordered! Ms. Brinkley of the SNAP program isn’t doing her job at all, if she is conducting phone interviews and approving applications, then doing nothing except hurt the person she is supposed to help!
When you attempt to call your counselor, it is almost impossible to reach them. Voice mail time and after time, and no call backs. They are very busy people, I don’t doubt that, but if you never can reach your person, it’s more than a little frustrating. When you receive a letter asking for a phone interview they ask you to call. You cannot reach them.
If you are unable to work, mentally ill, or something else of the same ilk, you get SSI money, which isn’t very much to live on, maybe $660 per month if you have no children. This decimates your SNAP benefits to around $60 per month. Try to eat for 30 days on $2 per day!
Suppose you are a college student in New Orleans and you need SNAP benefits. Forget it! You aren’t eligible! You are told don’t go to college and spend money on tuition, that’s money you should have spent on food! This is what a 20 year old friend of my son was told when he applied.
SNAP has a web site in Louisiana, and if your status is pending, you may receive your card in a week. If you are approved, expect to wait a couple of weeks for your card. Does this make sense? NO NO NO!! Pending cases don’t have food stamps yet, but they do in Louisiana and approved means wait, wait, and more waiting. You could starve before your benefits ever reach you.
It’s a serious state of affairs, and not all fair. I don’t blame the counselors, who number too few and are seriously underpaid no doubt. But all the out of state connections with this program must raise the cost substantially.