Beneficiary access to programs such as SNAP, TANF, and other programs has been restored to the 17 States where Xerox provides EBT service, including Ohio, said a Xerox official.
The updated announcement was made Saturday night after thousands of food stamp card users were unable to use their cards to purchase groceries.
Customers and grocery store employees in northeastern Ohio told WEWS that an error appeared on the checkout screen stating the transaction was not approved.
Some customers left the grocery stores empty handed.
WEWS reached out to The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS), U.S. Department of Agriculture and Xerox for answers regarding the issue.
The ODJFS released the following statement.
The problem is unrelated to the federal budget situation. Xerox's cash and food assistance card payment systems went down at 11 a.m. this morning. The cash system has been fixed; however, the EBT card system is still down. Xerox has assured ODJFS they are working to fix the problem as quickly as possible. All states that use Xerox systems are affected by the outage. Xerox is notifying retailers to go 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 the card, and Xerox will guide them through the purchase process.
A spokesperson from The U.S. Department of Agriculture also released a statement.
EBT cards in a number of states have temporarily stopped working today due to a technical issue that the vendor that serves these states is experiencing. The vendor is working to fix this issue and EBT cards will work again once it is resolved. This issue is not related to the government shutdown.
A spokesperson for Xerox responded as well stating, " During a routine test of our back-up systems Saturday morning, Xerox's Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) system experienced a temporary shutdown. Technical staff is addressing the issue and expect the system to be restored soon."
Hours later just before 10 p.m. Saturday, Xerox sent an updated statement to WEWS, reporting the EBT system outage restored.
The statement says…
Beneficiary access to programs such as SNAP, TANF, and other programs has been restored to the 17 States where Xerox provides EBT service. Re-starting the EBT system required time to ensure service was back at full functionality. Beneficiaries who required immediate access to their benefits could work with their local merchants who could activate an emergency voucher process where available. 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.
An ODJFS spokesperson said they are cautiously optimistic.