Court: State Must Act In Food Stamps Case

Alaska Beacon
    In January, 10 Alaskans sued the state because they said the Department of Health failed to provide food stamps within the time frames required by federal law. The state has been able to push pause on litigation since last year, but now it has to begin the process.
    District Judge Sharon Gleason wrote in a court order that further delays would be “inefficient” and noted that the state has now had a year to try to resolve its backlog.
    The court granted the state a series of stays, or pauses in the process, to allow it to work on its problems. Last May the stay was contingent on a pledge the state made to cut its backlog in half. The state did so, but then incurred another large backlog.
    Saima Akhtar, an attorney representing the case against the state, said by email on Tuesday that “pushing the case forward in litigation seemed the best way to seek a permanent and real resolution for ongoing problems in SNAP processing in Alaska.”
    She said that her clients were opposed to further delaying the case because there was a backlog of thousands of Alaskans without benefits as the second stay was reaching an end in late October 2023.
    The lawsuit was filed against Alaska Health Commissioner Heidi Hedberg. It said that in her role as commissioner of a department that failed to provide needed services, Hedberg “has subjected thousands of Alaskans to ongoing hunger and continues to do so.”
    Last week, officials from the Department of Health reported that its most recent backlog is down to roughly 3,500 applications. To get there, the Division of Public Assistance is paying staff for significant overtime hours, as well as waiving federally required application interviews and verifications. Commissioner Hedberg called the latter two measures “tough decisions”; they prompted a warning from the federal government that said the state is jeopardizing its federal funding if it continues to break the rules.

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At a Glance

(updated 9-12-2023)

By Sentinel Staff

The state Department of Health and Social Services has posted the following update on the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Alaska as of 8:57 a.m. Tuesday, September 12.

New cases as of Tuesday: 278

Total cases (cumulative) statewide – 301,513

Total (cumulative) deaths – 1,485

Case Rate per 100,000 – 38.14

To visit the Alaska DHSS Corona Response dashboard website click here.

COVID in Sitka

The Sitka community level is now "Low.'' Case statistics are as of Tuesday.

Case Rate/100,000 – 152.50

Cases in last 7 days – 13

Cumulative Sitka cases – 3,575

Deceased (cumulative) – 10

The local case data are from Alaska DHSS.






March 2004

Photo caption: Fire engines and ambulances shine in the sun outside the new fire hall Saturday during an open house. Hundreds turned out to look over the $4 million facility, which is twice the size of the building it replaced. It features a state-of-the-art exhaust system and much larger offices and a large training room.


March 1974

The Sheldon Jackson Museum will have a special showing of replicas of ancient Tlingit hunting weapons. The replicas were made by A. P. Johnson, a Tlingit  culture instructor and metal arts teacher at SJC.


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