Outage halted food stamp checkouts
Mon, 2013-10-14 14:23
They were not pleased, but this was out of my hands and nothing I could do about it. We posted a sign up front to let customers know the system was down.
By PRESTON GILL
Food stamp recipients in 17 states, including Louisiana, experienced a service outage Saturday because of technical problems experienced by Xerox Corporation, the company that maintains card services.
The outage was not related to the ongoing federal government shutdown.
Steve Domangue, Cannata Supermarket manager in Morgan City, said after the problem was discovered Saturday morning at his store, he made several phone calls and realized there was a statewide problem.
“We always have a problem when people can’t buy their groceries,” Domangue said. “They were not pleased, but this was out of my hands and nothing I could do about it. We posted a sign up front to let customers know the system was down.”
Service was restored about 9 p.m. Saturday.
The multi-state service problems with retail transactions began at about 11 a.m. Saturday, the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services, which handles the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program in Louisiana, said in a news release.
Children and Family Services distributes food stamps in Louisiana via electronic debit transfer accounts through SNAP.
Lindsey deBlieux, Children and Family Services spokeswoman, said in a Saturday night news release that system service statewide had been restored by 9:45 p.m.
“The multi-state system outage … was the result of a technical issue and was not connected to the federal government shutdown,” deBlieux said after the service was resumed.
A routine test of backup systems by Xerox sparked the technical problems, The Associated Press reported.
Besides Louisiana, other states affected by the temporary outage included Ohio, Michigan, Alabama, California, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, Mississippi, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia.
Xerox Corp. spokeswoman Jennifer Wasmer said in an email that an emergency voucher process was available in some of the areas while the problems were occurring.
While transactional systems maintained by contractors may have been impacted by the outage, the systems that Department of Children and Family Services uses to track EBT card usage and identify fraud were still in place, a department news release said.
According to the DCFS website, Louisiana had 866,418 individuals receiving SNAP benefits in 387,777 households with an average household payment of $310.21 during September. The households had an average $1,044.26 in earned monthly income.
There are 4,904 households receiving SNAP assistance in St. Mary Parish, down 70 from a year ago. The state is down 4,890 from a year ago.