Not associated with the government shutdown, a computer system failure on Oct. 12 resulted in a crash of food stamps access for millions of beneficiaries in 17 states across America. People stood in long lines at their local grocery stores on Saturday, unable to pay for shopping carts loaded with groceries.
The system failure affected low-income individuals and families who receive food benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Women, Infants and Children program (WIC). ~ The Washington Post
The Xerox Corp. is the vendor responsible for overseeing the food stamp debit cards that low income families use to purchase their food items. The system crash occurred early Saturday morning while Xerox was testing its backup systems.
Once their system went down, food stamp cards were not being accepted at local grocery stores.
Xerox had their computer problems fixed by Saturday evening. Late Saturday, Jennifer Wasmer, a spokesperson for Xerox, released a statement saying:
“Beneficiary access to programs such as SNAP, TANF, and other programs has been restored to the 17 States where Xerox provides EBT service. Re-starting the EBT system required time to ensure service was back at full functionality.”
The Xerox Corp. reached out to their retailers asking them to go old school and back “to a manual system, meaning customers could spend up to $50 until the system was restored.” In many instances, fully loaded grocery carts were left at the stores with beneficiaries going home empty handed.
In Okla. alone, more than 600,000 food stamp recipients were affected by the computer failure.
The computer failure resulted in food stamp disruption in Ala., Calif., Ga., Iowa, Ill., La., Mass., Md., Mich., Miss., N.J., Ohio, Okla., Pa., Texas, and Va.