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.

Louisiana SNAP Card

Louisiana SNAP Card

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!

SNAP image

SNAP image

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.

~ by neworleansmusicman on May 20, 2013.

8 Responses to “Louisiana Food Stamp Follies!!”

  1. Any update on when your friend got his card? My case worker is also A. Brinkley she said 7-10 days and when the card gets here it will be loaded. I am on day 7 and running low on food… I don’t know of what to do. I did receive my determination letter for being approved. I lost my job and have 0 income and she knows that I had to prove it via a separation later from previous employer. I’m stressed I have a child I have to feed!!!

    • My friend got his card weeks later. After 2 weeks, my friend went down to the office and inquired about his card. He was told that Brinkley authorized the card but never mailed it. The office sent away for the cord while he was there but it comes from Texas and takes a week or so. Your card might take 3 weeks with Brinkley, sorry to say. There are good food banks in New Orleans all over, what part of town are in you in I’ll find out for you. Just give me your zip code. I’m writing a new entry on Food Bank Foolishness around town, so I’m in touch with the local food banks.
      Go down to the office next week and find out if the card is on the way. My friend waited two weeks, forget that.

      • Oh my god.. That’s awful. I Googled a little more and found out you can call the ebt card hotline and speak to someone that knows god I did the rep told me that the benefits were issued to a card that I never received in 2011 because I found a job and closed my case before I even receive the damn card. Thank god the rep at the card center cancelled it and she directed me back to the LA Help U hotline to order a new one but of course it’s closed until Monday. I called the ebt center again and asked what to do and they said the best and possibly quickest way would be to go to the office Monday morning and tell them what happened and they can POSSIBLY issue a card on the spot. This is the worst experience of my life I have never been so worried and scared thank you for your help and the info. My zip is 70043. Thanks so much I truly appreciate your kindness.

      • Call your office to make sure they issue cards, the one my friend went to at Iberville and Claiborne and they don’t. That delayed things a week for my friend. I’ll check on your zip for available food banks and they can be a big big help and make a difference. My friend began volunteering at his local food bank and got great food bank perks in return. They have name brand food now, not government surplus. Good luck!! Things will work out, I am sure of it.

      • OK, I checked for food banks in Chalmette, and came up with these choices:

        First Baptist Church
        2010 West Beauregard Street
        Chalmette, LA 70043
        PHONE NUMBER: 504-277-2939
        Food Resource Information: First Baptist Church Chalmette is a food pantry.

        Community Center of St Bernard
        Arabi, LA
        1107 LeBeau Street
        Arabi, LA 70032
        PHONE NUMBER: 504-281-2512
        Food Resource Information: Community Center of St Bernard is a food pantry.

        Call first to make sure of hours and availability. I wish you the very best luck! Please get back to me with any problems concerning your food situation.

  2. I’ve actually been trying now for about two months to get a phone interview done with no success. It’s absolutely ridiculous how the entire application process is conducted. It’s literally an act of congress and it’s obviously designed to discourage applicants.

  3. Same situation for my family.applied got the approved letter and three weeks later no card.I have my case workers fax so I faxed her a note..no reply .I have never gotten stamps but was forced to after loosing my job..This state does not care about its people.Yet get caught with out a seat belt and watch what happens..you get a ticket .like Louisiana is so worried about your safety .if so they should pay my health insurance .my car insurance lapsed from loss of job..what does this fine state do take a 125 dollar per vehicle fine on me that doubles every thirty days ….it’s all about money here

  4. I received my card the same day as the interview and was told how much I would be getting per month for 6 months then would have to reapply as usual. Today I as supposed to have my snap benefits and have a balance of zero!!! Of course I called the card number on the back and was told to try the office in the am! I just lost my job and have 2 small boys to feed! When I tried to see the status over the phone it said pending and when I tried to see the amount it said my case was closed the same day I applied! My snap benefits got cut off by them 2 years ago because I went shopping not knowing about the gov shutdown!!! The cashier ran my card for every 10$ I spent so I was constantly having to enter my pin over and over again it was the day I got my benefits I had no idea something would happen some how she overcharged me and my children and I have had to go without because I was not going to plead guilty for something I didn’t do! When I went to other stores they had signs up saying not accepting snap at this time but of course Walmart would! I have researched and some say it was a scam by Walmart! I pray to God everyday that these benefits will come through!!! God help me!!

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