Beginning at 11 a.m. on Saturday, October 12, many grocery shoppers dealt with the frustration of not being able to use their government issued food assistance card.
Benjamin Johnson, the Deputy Director of the Office of Communications at Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, says that the latest update he's received from Xerox should calm concerned shoppers.
Xerox, the middle-man of the government benefits and many recipients in several states, says that the system is starting to come back on-line and is beginning to work in some stores as of 8:45 p.m. and released the following statement concerning the issue:
"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. Beneficiaries who required immediate access to their benefits could work with their local merchants who could activate an emergency voucher process where available. We appreciate our clients' patience while we resolved this issue and apologize for any inconvenience. We realize that access to these benefits is important to families in the states we serve. We continue to investigate the cause of the issue so we can take steps to ensure a similar interruption does not re-occur."
Grocery store shoppers attempting to use their food assistance cards have been denied the usage of their EBT cards in 17 states, including Ohio for most of the day into the night.
Johnson says that the problem with the cards, while inconvenient, is not related to the government shut down.
A Dave's Market employee told 19 Action News that the failure of the EBT computer system has had the phone ringing off the hook all day.
Xerox released an earlier statement concerning the unavailability of resources:
"Xerox's cash and food assistance card payment systems went down at 11 a.m. this morning. The cash system has been fixed; however, the EBT card system is still down. Xerox has assured ODJFS (Ohio Department of Job and Family Services) they are working to fix the problem as quickly as possible. More than 15 states that use Xerox systems are affected by the outage. Xerox is notifying retailers to go to the manual system, meaning SNAP customers can spend up to $50 until the system is back online. SNAP recipients should call the 800 number on the back of the card, and Xerox will guide them through the purchase process."
Many families who have not been able to purchase food will be relieved to know that the problem is soon to be over.
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