The state's new electronic food distribution system or NC FAST has been beset by a myriad of software and other problems that have caused backlogs and delays in issuing food stamps. The new system was rolled out to all 100 counties this past February in hopes of streamlining services for those in need. David Atkinson is director of the Carteret County Department of social services. His county was one of the first to implement NC FAST. He says while his staff is among the most skilled at using the system, it only works about three quarters of the time.
“We've coined a new technical term down here called ‘bugared up.’ It will bugar up real quick,” Atkinson says. “So we've learned to take our time and to treat it gently. Most of the time, we can get it worked out. Now we're running about 20 to 30 percent behind where we were about six weeks ago.”
Atkinson anticipates a glitch-free system by sometime next summer.
In the meantime, Ricky Diaz from the state department of Health and Human Services says the agency is working round the clock to clear up problems and make sure applications are processed as quickly as possible. He says the state is adding 160 staff to the NC FAST team to provide more on-site support and training for each county.