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State sued over food stamp distribution

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A federal lawsuit filed last week is aimed at forcing the state government to more quickly hand out food stamps to families in need because the state has been falling behind.

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday on behalf of food stamp recipients, asks a judge to require the Department of Human Services to process the vast majority of food stamp applications within 30 days, as required by federal guidelines. Hawaii has been processing about 78 percent of food stamp applications on time.

The lawsuit was filed by Lawyers for Equal Justice, the National Center of Law and Economic Justice and the Honolulu law firm of Alston Hunt Floyd & Ing.

Department of Human Services Director Lillian Koller had no immediate comment on the lawsuit, but she said the state has been working to interview more applicants by phone rather than in person, streamline its application processing, equalize workloads and reduce paperwork.

 

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