All across the country today, EBT card holders experienced a problem at the check out line. The computer server system that empowers retailers to accept EBT cards for such funds as SNAP (formerly called food stamps), experienced a malfunction earlier in the day, that caused EBT card holders to be unable to use those funds.
Many states across the nation use a company called Xerox to process EBT payments.
Karen Arena, a spokeswoman for Xerox, says "We are getting updated in real time, but as far as I know right now, some of the Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) system is experiencing temporary connectivity issues. Technical staff is addressing the issue and expect the system to be restored soon. The issue stemmed from a routine check of the system."
A spokesperson for the USDA, Courtney Rowe, also confirmed that the issue is not related to the government shutdown. "EBT cards in a number of states have temporarily stopped working today due to a technical issue that the vendor that serves these states is experiencing. The vendor is working to fix this issue and EBT cards will work again once it is resolved. This issue is not related to the government shutdown."
Xerox runs EBT card systems for 17 states and all were affected by the outage.
Benjamin Johnson, a spokesman for the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, said that Xerox is notifying retailers to revert to the manual system, meaning SNAP customers can spend up to $50 until the system is back online. In the meantime, SNAP recipients should call the 800 number on the back of their card, and Xerox will guide them through the purchase process.
Everyone hopes for a swift resolution to these technical difficulties, and more information will be relayed as soon as it has been released.