Struggling families still waiting for city grocery cards plagued by delays

A city program to help feed families impacted by the pandemic has run into major delays.

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - A federally funded city program to help feed families devastated by the pandemic has run into major delays. But the city hopes today’s stimulus deal in Congress will help it extend the program.

Earlier this month, the city mailed out postcards to 4,000 families who are receiving some form of pandemic aid, telling them they were eligible for $500 grocery cards.

But the city said its East Coast vendor -- which mailed out the first batch of cards on Dec. 9 -- ran into postal delays.

“Number one is some bad weather on the East Coast so that most likely affected the second batch that went out. Prior to that, there have been some delays as we’re all aware in our delivery services through the U.S. Postal Service,” said Amy Asselbaye, director of the city’s Office of Economic Revitalization.

But Chassity Granito of Waimanalo said the city should have anticipated the heavy mail volume during the holidays.

“It’s Christmas time. We know the Postal Service is always busy this time of the year,” she said.

The single-mother of two said she received a postcard in early December that she would be getting a card.

But Granito -- who lost her two jobs when the pandemic hit -- said she still hasn’t received it. And she worries that she won’t get card -- which is set to expire on Dec. 27 -- in time to spend the money.

“I feel it was a little irresponsible,” she said.

“You have all of this money to spend. Now who knows if we’re going to get it in time.”

The city doesn’t know how many cards have been delayed.

But on a Facebook page for people who lost their jobs during the pandemic, many have complained that they haven’t gotten their cards yet.

The city said the program is funded by CARE Act money, which was set to lapse at the end of the year.

But the stimulus deal announced today could extend the year-end deadline for city and states to spend their CARES Act money.

“If that extension occurs and the Congress acts in the next 24 hours, we may be able to allow the residents who receive the cards to use them beyond Dec. 27th,” said Asselbaye.

Copyright 2020 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.