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Alameda County submits to judicial oversight of troubled food stamp program

OAKLAND — Sued for chronically failing to process food stamp applications on time, Alameda County has agreed to give a federal judge wide latitude to ensure compliance.

Under a tentative settlement approved last week by U.S. District Judge James Donato, the Alameda County Social Services Agency will be required to file monthly compliance reports with the judge and plaintiffs’ attorneys showing that it is processing applications on time for the welfare program now known as CalFresh

The county also will be required to implement corrective measures in months when it is failing to meet processing deadlines.

“From our perspective this is a 100 percent victory,” said Tom Loran, whose firm Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, along with the Public Interest Law Project and the Western Center on Law & Poverty represented plaintiffs.

In a lawsuit filed last year, the attorneys argued that Alameda was the slowest among California’s 58 counties in processing CalFresh applications and had refused to take necessary steps to remedy delays.

Alameda County’s struggle to meet those deadlines left several applicants dependent on relatives for food, according to court papers. Daniel Mallory, an unemployed Berkeley man living in a shelter, wrote that he “often skipped meals or ate very little” before finally being approved for food stamps 29 days after applying for expedited benefits.

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