SNAP recipients face long phone waits to recertify after emergency assistance ends
PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) - SNAP recipients are navigating the end of pandemic-era emergency food assistance this month.
William Thompson lives in Portland and has been a SNAP recipient for the last two years. He says this week, he ran into problems recertifying his benefits.
“I’ll tell you, one day I sat on there for over an hour waiting and they hung up,” said Thompson. “Yesterday I tried twice. One was for 81 minutes and I just gave up. Another one was for about 45 minutes with no response.”
Thompson says overall, he probably spent five hours trying to get someone on the phone this week.
“They don’t seem to care,” said Thompson. “This has been going on, this isn’t anything new. Someone decided to have the one central call center in Salem. That’s where it all breaks down.”
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DHS confirmed eligibility staff hold times are long as they are experiencing historic levels of demand, but there are lower hold times between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m.
Thompson says Wednesday morning he called early and thankfully was finally able to get his benefits recertified. He says that wasn’t his only concern; he’s worried about the additional allotments for food assistance ending this month.
“It takes a load off a person because when you’re at the mercy of the system, it can be very scary,” said Thompson. “It’s going to be hard. That was a significant hit to us low-income folks. What are they going to do if they can’t get through to the call center and get recertified?”
Jake Sunderland, the Press Secretary for the Oregon Department of Human Services also provided Fox 12 with the following statement regarding the pandemic-era additional food assistance ending:
This month will be the first time in nearly three years that most people on SNAP in Oregon will only receive their regular SNAP food benefits.
Unless a household has been recently contacted because it is time for their annual case renewal, no action is required for people to continue to receive their regular SNAP benefits.
We know that many rely on these additional emergency food benefits to get enough healthy food for themselves and their families and that without them some people might experience hardship and hunger. We encourage them to contact our partners at 211, Oregon Food Bank or to visit NeedFood.Oregon.gov for support during this difficult time.
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Making a plan now for how you will adjust to the change will reduce the chance of experiencing an emergency or crisis later.
People can find out what their regular SNAP benefit amount is accessing their EBT account online at www.ebtEDGE.com or by logging into their ONE account at Benefits.oregon.gov Regular SNAP benefits are added to EBT cards between the first and the ninth day of the month.
We have added additional staff to our ONE Customer Service Center to help answer questions about a person’s SNAP benefits at 1-800-699-9075. The ONE Customer Service Center is open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Pacific Time. Hold times are lowest in the morning from 7 until 8 a.m. Individuals may also continue to go into local ODHS or partner Area Agency on Aging offices and report changes, apply, recertify, or ask questions about their benefits.
For those who are looking for additional food assistance, organizations recommend going to OregonFoodFinder.org, NeedFood.Oregon.gov, or calling 211.
FOX 12 has been partnering with Fred Meyer for the FOX 12 Hunger Free Project to help those in need in our community. Follow this link to learn more and donate: kptv.com/hungerfreeproject
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