Saturday, October 12, 2013

(OT) EBT (Food Stamp) Debit Cards Have Stopped Working, as of Saturday October 12, 2013

(UPDATE 10/15/2013) Saturday's outage may have been a dry run, if the memo from USDA is authentic. See my latest post.


Many, many Americans who depend on the program to buy necessary food for their families, have to shell out the money they don't have to purchase food right now.

Xerox, the vendor who runs the system, says it's a system failure. Department of Agriculture says it's not because of the government shutdown. Sure.

From KPCC, southern California public radio station (10/12/2013):

Food stamp debit cards not working in California and many other states

People in California, Ohio, Michigan and several other states found themselves unable to buy groceries with their food stamp debit-style cards on Saturday, after a routine check by vendor Xerox Corp. resulted in a system failure. A manager at Ralph's in Glendale confirmed to KPCC that their EBT system is down.

Xerox spokeswoman Karen Arena confirmed via email Saturday afternoon that some Electronic Benefits Transfer systems are experiencing temporary connectivity issues. She said technical staff is addressing the issue and expects the system to be restored soon. U.S. Department of Agriculture spokeswoman Courtney Rowe underscored that the outage is not related to the government shutdown. Xerox runs EBT card systems for 17 states and all were affected by the outage.

...Johnson said Xerox is notifying retailers to revert 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 their card, and Xerox will guide them through the purchase process.

Shoppers left carts of groceries behind at a packed Market Basket grocery store in Biddeford, Maine, because they couldn't get their benefits, said fellow shopper Barbara Colman, of Saco, Maine. The manager put up a sign saying the EBT system was not in use. Colman, who receives the benefits, called an 800 telephone line for the program and it said the system was down due to maintenance, she said.

"That's a problem. There's a lot of families who are not going to be able to feed children because the system is being maintenanced," Colman said. "No one should put maintenance in during the daytime."

She planned to reach out to local officials.

(Full article at the link)

Well, local retailers, as far as I checked, are NOT doing the manual entry at all, and they simply refuse the EBT card. There are customers who are shelling out the money they hardly afford to spend, in order to buy food.

The government official's assurance that it is not because of the government shutdown doesn't mean much to people who cannot buy food.

The toll-free customer service number is not working, and the website for the program is down.

A piece of advice that one of the local retailers was giving to the affected customers was to call Congressman of the area and complain. They seem to think it is because of the government shutdown.

Hitting the low-income people hardest - that's Obama's way anyway.


Anonymous said...

So miserable....Poverty running back even worse than it used to be.

Anonymous said...

Hitting the low-income people hardest - that's Obama's way anyway.
I'm quite surprised by this view point. Isn't there a very good reason why Obama's opponents call him a socialist?

Anonymous said...

Will people be able to get their benefits without losses when the system will resume operation? I mean, they have "just" to put up some cash upfront, which can be tough for some but at least the money is not gone for good. If they get a better health care system in exchange it might be worth the momentary sacrifice.

Anonymous said...

mscharisma, poor, working-class people have been worse off under Obama, getting hit harder by increase of FICA tax to pre-crisis level (as if economic downturn is over for the main street) and now Obamacare.

This socialist president has greatly benefited fat cats in big banks, corporations, and big unions.

Anonymous said...

At anon @ 2:12 pm:
Thanks for the info. I believe, though, it only takes into account half the story. Regardless of who would have been president, the underfunding of social security programs and the overall budget deficit - created under Bush - had to be addressed. The elimination of tax cuts implemented under Bush was one possible option. It was, however, thanks to the Republicans that higher income earners were spared paying their fair share. No?
Besides, social security as well as Obamacare benefit low income earners the most. Likewise, unions fight for the benefit of the workers.
I also don't see the big banks and corporations benefiting more under Obama than previously under Bush. Every measure Obama would like or has taken to provide better regulation and eliminate tax loopholes for the fat cats has been heavily fought against or prevented by the Republicans.
So while it is true that low income people are hit the hardest, it is because everyone should have taken a hit, but thanks to the Republicans the wealthier are mostly spared and continue to enjoy the "benefits" they gained under Bush.
What am I missing?

Anonymous said...

mscharisma, if you think "thanks to the Republicans...." etc. etc., you really don't know how much further, and extraordinary gain that they have been getting under Obama. Income growth of the top 1% is more than 20% under Obama, when it is a negative number for the rest of us.

And if you think Obama tries to close tax loopholes for the fat cats, you are very much mistaken. Obama is letting them know where the regulation is, so that they can circumvent. Fought by the Republicans? Get real. Top Dems are multimillionaires.

Anonymous said...

Don't look at it in terms of Republican or Democrat.
Group names and labels are nothing more than distractions.
Look at it in terms of individuals taking advantage of their positions to create benefits for each other, at our expense.

The rest is irrelevant noise.

Anonymous said...

At anon @ 3:38 pm: I'm not entirely disagreeing with you, but I am saying one has to look deeper into why things are the way they are, and I'm not sure that the widening income gap is a result of Obama policies. For instance, isn't it logical that the wealthy gain more during and after a recession that hit the hardest for the lower income people? As far as policy matters go, it seems that the democrats rather than the republicans are willing to make this at least a little better. And yes, there are many millionaires - on both sides.

And I agree with anon @ 8:31 pm insofar that one has to go beyond looking at labels, i.e. republican vs. democrat. Income inequality is a systemic problem. What can one expect if millionaires are running the country in a capitalist system? Nonetheless one is back to partisan distinctions and policy issues when it comes to determining where there is more of a chance (however small it may be) that the issue is addressed.

In any case, thanks for sharing your view points.

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