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Denver's most vulnerable residents report delays in SNAP food assistance benefits

Denver Human Services confirms delays, expedites "critical risk" cases
Food Stamps
Posted at 4:30 PM, May 22, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-22 21:18:30-04

DENVER — Denver residents have been waiting for SNAP benefits for weeks after a delay in the processing of such benefits. Now, Contact Denver7 is getting answers for people worried about feeding their families.

"I've just been through a lot in my life," said Robert Lewis, who said the last month has been even more difficult after his monthly food benefits never arrived. "I'm trying to be on my own and do what I need to do even with my disability, and it's just hard."

Lewis said he went in person to the SNAP office and was informed that there was a delay in processing benefits.

He said they had no estimate on when he would receive the money he relies on for food.

"I basically, I don't eat that much, but I still have my peanut butter and stuff like that! And I can't even get that now because I have only $5 on my card," said Lewis.

Food assistance delays appear to be a widespread issue in Colorado and across the country.

In an email, a Colorado Department of Human Services spokesman wrote, "The end of the public health emergency is posing some workload challenges nationwide."

For some families, the "workload challenge" has created an impossible choice.

"I don't want to show my face. I'm embarrassed. I'm scared," said one Denver mother, who declined to be identified, but wanted to tell her story after DHS did not send her SNAP benefits this month. "They said they're behind 30 to 45 days. I wasn't even able to pay my rent because I had to make a decision about whether or not my kids were going to eat. And so now I'm facing eviction because I had to use my rent money to feed my children."

After Contact Denver7 reached out, this mother said she received a call from Denver Human Services that her food assistance had been approved.

"This is a blessing from God," she said. "We are crying for joy."

Meanwhile, Robert Lewis also received a call from Denver Human Services, and his food benefits arrived within hours.

"I'll be OK with my peanut butter," said Lewis. "Ya'll made it happen — thank you!"

In a statement, Victoria Aguilar, a spokeswoman for Denver Human Services, confirmed a delay in SNAP benefit delivery:

"Denver Human Services (DHS) is currently experiencing a delay that is creating a disruption in the delivery of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits for some of our existing recipients. DHS has made improvements in processing new and expedited SNAP applications. Despite these efforts to process existing SNAP redeterminations, we continue to experience some delays."

Aguilar also stated that the city is expediting "critical risk cases, which might include individuals who have been served an eviction notice, an at-risk older adult, or people experiencing a non-life-threatening medical emergency."

Applicants who believe they are at critical risk can call the department at 720-944-4347.

In addition, DHS has a partnership with Food Bank of the Rockies to host monthly mobile food pantries where food boxes are available. The next mobile food pantries are from 9-11:30 a.m. or until food runs out on:

  • Friday, June 16 (Denver Human Services East Office, 3815 Steele Street, Denver, 80205)
  • Monday, June 26 (Sun Valley, Empower Field at Mile High parking Lot E, Denver, 80204)
Denver's most vulnerable residents report delays in SNAP food assistance benefits

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