Food Stamps Outage Fixed

The outage was not related to the government shutdown.

By Staff and Wires
|  Saturday, Oct 12, 2013  |  Updated 7:48 PM PDT
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Kimberly Tere reports on a Saturday failure of the country's food stamp debit cards.

Kimberly Tere reports on a Saturday failure of the country's food stamp debit cards.

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Xerox Corporation said its problems with EBT food stamp debit cards across the country have been resolved in all effected states. 

Xerox said re-starting the EBT system required time to make sure it was back at full functionality.

"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," the statement read. 

The fix follows an outage that impacted people from California and 16 other states.

Food stamp users were unable to use their debit cards on Saturday, after a routine check by vendor Xerox Corp. resulted in a system failure.

The fix happened after 10 p.m. on the East Coast and around 7 p.m. in California.

Here's what Xerox says happened: 

"During a routine test of our back-up systems Saturday morning, Xerox's Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) system experienced a temporary shutdown. While the system is now up and running, beneficiaries in the 17 affected states continue to experience connectivity issues to access their benefits," spokeswoman Karen Arena said in a statement to NBC News.

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.

Officials had advised beneficiaries to use the manual system in the meantime, which means SNAP customers can spend up to $50 until the system is back online.

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."

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