According to ABC News on Monday, EBT card users ransacked Walmart stores in Louisiana during the temporary system glitch on Saturday, when limits were lifted completely off of cards during a routine system maintenance period.
Louisiana officials are trying to decide what to do about a massive shopping spree by families on food stamps when a power outage lifted the caps on their spending cards.
Police were called to Walmart locations in Mansfield, La., and Springhill, La., on Saturday as shoppers cleaned out store shelves.
When the EBT database came back online and card purchase limits were suddenly restored, EBT card holders abandoned their full carts and just walked away, probably miffed that they missed out on participating in the felony theft of groceries.
Springhill Police Chief Will Lynd said some customers were pushing more food than any household could store in a refrigerator and freezer.
The outage allowed recipients to spend unlimited amounts of money because the spending limit was removed for their EBT cards.
The EBT system was affected in 17 states, where individuals and households access programs like Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, and other programs.
"I saw people drag out eight to ten grocery carts," he said.
Lynd said customers were "not unruly." There were no fights or arrests made, but the scene was still chaotic, he said.
Unlike Walmart, other grocery stores in town told customers they would not accept EBT cards until the card limits were evident again.
Lynd explained the cards weren't showing limits when they called corporate Walmart, whose spokesman said to let the people use the cards anyway. From 7 to 9 p.m., people were loading up their carts, but when the cards began showing limits again around 9, one woman was detained because she rang up a bill of $700.00 and only had .49 on her card. She was held by police until corporate Walmart said they wouldn't press charges if she left the food.
Pictures and videos obtained by KSLA News 12 show aisles packed with shoppers emptying the shelves in Springhill. Another video shows what appear to be at least dozens of overflowing carts left abandoned in the aisles at the Mansfield store, against the backdrop of emptied shelves in the meat department.
A spokeswoman for Walmart, Kayla Whaling, said the frenzied shopping in Louisiana "was isolated and is not representative of the what our stores experienced across the country."
Emily Sutherlin is also the Pregnancy Examiner.
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