Food Stamp Debit Cards Failing To Work In 17 States
“I saw people drag out eight to ten grocery carts,” Springhill Police Chief Will Lynd told local CBS affiliate KSLA . “It was definitely worse than Black Friday. It was worse than anything we had ever seen in this town.” The glitch, caused by a power outage during a routine maintenance test at Xerox , took many long hours to correct and affected millions of households across 17 states. Around 7 PM, the Walmart stores in Springhill and Mansfield first noted that EBT cards were not displaying limits and called corporate for guidance. A spokesman for the company acknowledged that the stores got the green light to allow customers to use their EBT cards despite the glitch a decision which led many to load up on hundreds of dollars worth of food items, clearing out entire shelves by the time limits were restored two hours later. Lynd said that at no point were people unruly, and officers were merely brought in to assist with crowd control. Manfield’s police chief Gary Hobbs also reported calm among shoppers, save for a few instances of “pushing and shoving.” However, a store employee told KSLA they were forced to stop selling food by 9 PM because there was nothing left to sell. In Springhill, many overflowing shopping carts were left in the aisles after limits were restored, and employees spent nearly an entire day putting items back. According to ABC News , Walmart will be held responsible for any amount spent over the limit by EBT card holders. A Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services spokesman said the company chose not to adhere to the emergency policy which limits all sales during a system outage to no more than $50.
“That’s a problem. There are a lot of families who are not going to be able to feed children because the system is being maintenanced,” Colman said. She planned to reach out to local officials. “You don’t want children going hungry tonight because of stupidity,” she said. Colman said the store manager promised her that he would honor the day’s store flyer discounts next week. Wasmer said the states affected by the temporary outage also included Alabama, California, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Mississippi, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia. 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. Johnson said Xerox asked retailers to revert to a manual system, meaning customers could spend up to $50 until the system was restored. Illinois residents began reporting problems with their cards known as LINK in that state on Saturday morning, said Januari Smith, spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Human Services. Smith said that typically when the cards aren’t working retailers can call a backup phone number to find out how much money customers have available in their account. But that information also was unavailable because of the outage, so customers weren’t able to use their cards. “It really is a bad situation but they are working to get it fixed as soon as possible,” Smith said.
From Farm to Table: Reducing Waste in the Food Chain
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