District Court Judge Denies State of Alaska’s Motion to Stay Federal SNAP Lawsuit 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 7, 2024 


ALASKA – In a win for vulnerable Alaskans who rely on SNAP benefits, a District Court Judge has denied the State’s motion to stay ongoing litigation challenging Alaska’s SNAP processing delays, and directed the State to respond in 14 days to the Plaintiff’s motion for class certification regarding Alaskans experiencing language access problems when applying or recertifying for SNAP benefits.  

The Judge also addressed the Plaintiffs’ motion for preliminary injunction, which was filed at the beginning of the lawsuit but put “on hold” as the parties attempted to negotiate a resolution. The Judge ruled that the Plaintiffs could now make a new motion for preliminary injunction that includes updated information about the struggles that Alaskans still face in accessing SNAP benefits. The Plaintiffs anticipate an updated motion will be forthcoming shortly. 

Read the Court decision here. 

“We’re very encouraged by this decision and look forward to moving this litigation toward resolution,” said Saima Akhtar, Senior Attorney at the National Center for Law and Economic Justice. “Food benefits granted late do not remedy past hunger, which is why we continue to approach this case with the urgency it demands. The State must be held accountable for their unacceptable SNAP delays.” 

“Thousands of families have struggled because of the State’s failure to administer SNAP,” said Nick Feronti, Attorney with the Northern Justice Project. “The State needs to step up its efforts so it has capacity to meet the needs of all eligible Alaskans. We will continue our fight to fix Alaska’s broken SNAP system and get food benefits to the people who need them most.”  

NCLEJ and Northern Justice Projected first filed the class action lawsuit in January 2023. Following this action, Alaska became the first state to receive a sharp warning from the federal government over their processing delays, reflecting the seriousness of their failure to administer SNAP. In May 2023, parties agreed to put litigation on hold temporarily in exchange for the Department of Health to halve its 10,598 person SNAP backlog within 6 months. The State cleared its backlog by the end of September 2023, issuing approximately $6.6 million in SNAP benefits because of NCLEJ and Northern Justice Project intervention. Unfortunately, the progress was fleeting and the State developed another backlog of more recently filed cases, demonstrating a continued need for court intervention.  

The lawsuit alleges:   

The National Center for Law and Economic Justice (NCLEJ) advances racial and economic justice for low-income families, individuals, and communities across the country through ground-breaking impact litigation, policy advocacy, and support for grassroots organizing. Founded in 1965, NCLEJ protects access to critical benefits such as food stamps, Medicaid, and childcare; empowers low-wage workers, advocates for people with disabilities; and fights unlawful debt collection. 

The Northern Justice Project represents Alaskans in complex lawsuits against the State and Federal Governments, and large corporations. They have a proven track record of significant victories for their clients. From Medicaid, to Native American rights, to Special Education access, to tenants’ rights and more, they have successfully won many cases that have made an incredible difference for people living in their communities.