Power outage prevents use of food stamps
By Kari Andren
Published: Saturday, Oct. 12, 2013, 10:21 p.m.
Shoppers in 17 states were unable to access food stamp benefits Saturday because of a power outage that disconnected system servers around the country.
Xerox Corp., an information-technology vendor that runs the electronic benefits transfer card servers in several states, lost power about 11 a.m. Saturday during a routine check, company spokeswoman Karen Arena told The Associated Press in an email. Food stamp benefits are loaded onto EBT cards that are swiped like a debit card.
The shutdown left grocery stores and other outlets unable to process purchases made through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and other states from Maine to Oklahoma. Late on Saturday, Xerox reported that access to the system had been restored.
“It's hurting business and upsetting customers,” said Curtis Youngblood, store manager at Giant Eagle on Cedar Avenue, North Side. “People with cards are one of our major sources of transactions.”
Shoppers reported similar problems.
“It was terrible because I had a whole grocery cart full of food,” said Paula Riggleman, 54, of Rural Valley, Armstrong County. “I had to put everything back. It was so embarrassing.”
Riggleman said DiMaio's Supermarket “was like a ghost town” because many who live in that area, which has few job prospects, receive SNAP benefits they were unable to use.
Carey Miller, spokeswoman for Pennsylvania's Department of Public Welfare, said Xerox regained power in late morning or early afternoon, but it was still working on server-connectivity issues.
About 5 p.m. Saturday, it was still unclear when benefits would be accessible, she said.
Clients lost no benefits, but they were prevented from checking benefit balances over the phone.
Tonya Krivokucha of Greensburg said she and her husband could not use their EBT card at the Sav-A-Lot in Greensburg on Saturday morning, so they used their bank debit card to buy groceries.
“I thought it was the government shutdown,” Krivokucha said.
Ohio's cash and food assistance card payment systems went down at 11 a.m., said Benjamin Johnson, a spokesman for the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. Ohio's cash system has been fixed; however, he said, its electronic benefits transfer card system is still down.
Johnson said Xerox notified retailers to revert to the manual system, meaning SNAP customers could spend up to $50 before the system was back online.
The Associated Press contributed to this report. Kari Andren is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-850-2856 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Robert Morris University Polling Institute poll finds value of college in doubt
- Oscar-winning director Demme’s ‘Outsider’ art collection set for sale
- Military veteran ID cards granted on honor system
- Lawmaker: Responders should carry drug that counteracts opiates
- UMass latest to deal with rowdy St. Paddy’s parties
- Gettysburg wax museum selling historical figures
- Bill would let local police use radar guns
- Retired Pa. Game Commission chief to get $220K severance payment
- Advocates criticize Pa. plan to expand Medicaid program
- Philly, state leaders hopeful for pope visit in 2015
- Allegheny College journalism conference to share story next door