Settlement Secured in SNAP Class Action to Benefit Low-Income Nebraskans
NCLEJ and Nebraska Appleseed have secured a settlement in a Nebraska Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) class action lawsuit, which will help tens of thousands of low-income Nebraska families. The case challenged a system-wide failure by the Nebraska state agency to process applications and renewals for SNAP benefits, also known as food stamps, in a timely manner. As a consequence of Nebraska’s failures, tens of thousands of families lost the ability to access critical assistance and all too many went hungry.
The lawsuit, Leiting-Hall v. Winterer, had a significant impact even before the settlement, with Nebraska responding by committing resources and redesigning its service delivery model in an effort to vastly improve its food stamp program.
Under the key provisions of the settlement, the State agency must: (1) process applications and renewals for food stamps and decide eligibility within the time required by law; (2) provide monthly reports to the plaintiffs’ counsel to ensure compliance with the Food Stamp Act; (3) establish an informal review process to allow the plaintiffs’ counsel to address instances in which an application was not processes as required; and (4) improve its timely processing of Food Stamp Act applications until it achieves 96% on-time processing of applications.
The District Court of Nebraska has scheduled a fairness hearing on the appropriateness of the settlement for April 1, 2016.
In this case, NCLEJ was brought in by Nebraska Appleseed, a nonprofit Nebraska advocacy and policy program. NCLEJ and Nebraska Appleseed filed a class action lawsuit in 2014 on behalf of a working, single mother, Tami Leiting-Hall, who had been unlawfully delayed from receiving urgent and necessary help providing food for her family through SNAP.