When people need extra assistance with everyday groceries, the S.C. Department of Social Services is poised to help.
However, sometimes bumps along the road intercept that assistance.
That is what Kellie Duncan has found out the hard way. Duncan has not received any Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits for the past month of September.
“I have no groceries (in the house),” she states, adding, “If someone called DSS, they would be quick to take away my kids but they have not given it (to me).”
SNAP is the food assistance program doled out by the DSS for people under a certain income to receive groceries.
Duncan does add that she is not the only one who has experienced difficulties.
In fact, she states that a friend in the same county has had her case sent to a nearby county. However, her mother has just started to receive SNAP benefits this year and has not run into issues.
Duncan has been receiving SNAP benefits for about 10 years now and has not had any issue until just recently. She tried to go to the DSS office in Newberry but claims that she was turned away.
“Everything happened around the re certification time,” said Duncan about her case and says that the employee at the DSS office she visited was “very rude.”
Marilyn Matheus, with Department of Social Services in Columbia, says “no one should ever be turned away” and explains that if someone cannot help a client, they should find out who can.
Matheus states that as of July 1, a change involving how the regions are combined has taken place.
Matheus says, “Regionalization has occurred in four different regions and there are four different processes that happen with the re certifying process.”
Because of this fairly new process now, a client may not have a case in his or her hometown as is the case with Duncan’s friend.
Newberry is considered to be in the Upstate region.
As for help that may be needed with SNAP benefits, Matheus says that clients should call a main line instead of heading to the office.
She explains, “the phone lines have been backed up this past week and people may be told to call back in an hour or so. The volume of calls has been quite high.”
The interview phone line is 1-866-282-6612 and the general information phone line is 1-800-616-1309.
The interview line is solely for those applying for SNAP benefits while the general information line is exactly as it is named. If someone like Duncan wanted to inquire about her case, then she would call the general information line.
The phone numbers are always accessible to clients and Matheus may also help or direct help to the appropriate person.
SNAP has been running for more than 30 years and while the name has changed, the program still continues to support those who need those basic grocery items.
For more information about SNAP or other DSS programs, visit the website at dss.sc.gov or visit the Newberry site at dss.sc.gov/content/about/counties/counties.aspx?ID=36.
Note: As of press time, Duncan was in the process of contacting DSS about her case. If others are experiencing difficulties with their case or SNAP benefits, they may call the main DSS general information line. Matheus has also expressed concern and says that she is available to help out as well.