Millions of Americans continue to find themselves in dire straits because of the recession, and for many of those who turn to food-stamp programs for help, the wait can be long and desperate.

Dozens of programs in 39 states have left applicants waiting weeks or months for aid despite a federal law that requires applications to be reviewed within 30 days of being filed, reports The Associated Press. In Colorado, Florida, and Nevada, about one-fifth of applications were processed late.

Colorado’s Mesa and Jefferson counties “were some of the worst,” the AP writes in its analysis of more than 1,800 counties or groups of counties in which applications are tracked together. About 44 percent of applications in the two Colorado counties took longer than 30 days to process.

Liz McDonough, a spokeswoman for Colorado’s Department of Human Services, says demand is unprecedented, but Tracey Stewart of the Colorado Center on Law and Policy blames the state’s cumbersome application process, saying it takes “three hours to enter an application, and the case manager is probably not seeing more than three clients a day.”

Meanwhile, a coalition of anti-hunger groups and the governor’s office have launched an aggressive campaign to expand the Summer Food Service Programs offered at schools, churches, and other venues around the state, according to INDenverTimes.