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Food Stamp Lawsuit

POSTED: Friday, January 15, 2010 - 8:00am

UPDATED: Wednesday, February 17, 2010 - 3:26pm

EL PASO--- Thousands of El Pasoans are waiting for their food stamps right now, but three el paso families had enough and joined a class action lawsuit suing for their benefits.

According to the Texas RioGrande Legal Aid non-profit agency, more than 2,300 El Paso families have been waiting since October to get their food stamp benefits.

"So families are facing hunger, and they're facing hunger at a time where they don't have access to a healthy economy," said Veronica Carbajal, an attorney with the group.

They're suing on the behalf of 50 families statewide, because they say the state in breaking the law by not processing food stamp applications within the 30 day limit.

They say, they've even set up a hotline, because more than 40,000 families are being affected in the state.

According to Carbajal, her clients are seeing results without ever going into the courtroom.

"It's been amazing. 24 hours, 48 hours, and people all of a sudden someone at the (Texas Health and Human Services Commission) is interested in their case. They get called up to do a follow-up interview and they have their benefits within days," she said.

One of the three El Paso families received its benefits before Christmas, according to Carbajal. That's just days after they signed on to the lawsuit.

Yet representatives with the Texas HHSC say it's not the lawsuit that's pushing them to help these families.

"When people have been waiting that long for services at this point, after we've made so many improvements, there's something else at issue with their case. It's not just caught in the backlog," said Stephanie Goodman, a spokeswoman for the agency.

Instead, Goodman says some of the food stamp applications they receive are filled with flaws.
Goodman admits families are having to wait longer than needed.

They're hiring a state auditor to find the major problems with their application process, so families don't continue to go hungry.

To call the Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, call 1-866-757-1570.

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