No Groceries After Food Stamp Debit System Fails - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

No Groceries After Food Stamp Debit System Fails

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NBCNEWS.COM - People across 17 states Saturday were unable to use their food stamp debit cards after a computer failure at the company that powers the system.

Ohio, Michigan and Illinois were a few of the states where people reported having trouble using their electronic benefits transfer cards, which are managed by vendor Xerox Corp.

A company spokeswoman confirmed Saturday that the system was experiencing connectivity issues. "During a routine test of our back-up systems Saturday morning, Xerox's Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) system experienced a temporary shutdown. While the system is now up and running, beneficiaries in the 17 affected states continue to experience connectivity issues to access their benefits," spokeswoman Karen Arena said in a statement.

Technical staff was addressing the issue and expected the system to be restored soon, Arena added. Officials advised beneficiaries to use the manual system in the meantime, which means SNAP customers can spend up to $50 until the system is back online. 

Eliza Shook, a cashier in Clarksdale, Miss., one of the country's poorest states, told The Associated Press dozens of customers at the grocery store where she works had to put back the groceries when their cards didn't work because they couldn't pay for their purchases otherwise.  "It's been terrible," Shook told the AP.

"It's just been some angry folks. That's what a lot of folks depend on." 

A representative for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which manages the SNAP program, said the service disruption is not related to the government shutdown. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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