Technical problems stop consumers from using food stamps


Some people trying to purchase groceries today using food assistance programs are having trouble using their electronic cards.

Kelly Ishaq, manager of Broadway Food Center on Broadway Street in Toledo, said the system hasn’t allowed customers to use their cards to buy food. A message comes up saying “unavailable,” he said.

The store is alerting customers about the problem as soon as they walk in the door to avoid having to put back all their groceries once they get to the check-out line.

Mr. Ishaq said he understands the problem is widespread, with similar problems at stores elsewhere.

Benjamin Johnson, spokesman for Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, said cash and food assistance card payment systems run by Xerox “went down” at 11 a.m. Saturday.

The cash system was fixed, but the Electronic Benefit Transfer card system remained down Saturday afternoon.

Several area stores report similar problems, and some have signs at the doors indicating the processing system is not working.

The outage impacted all states that use Xerox systems, Mr. Johnson wrote in an email, and the company is “working to fix the problem as quickly as possible.” Mr. Johnson said the outage isn’t related to the federal government shutdown.

Those using the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, can spend up to $50 until the system is back online by having the retailer use a manual system, Mr. Johnson said. SNAP recipients can call an 800 number listed on the back of their cards, and Xerox will help them make the purchase, he said.

Brian O'Connor, a central Toledo resident, said he ran into a similar problem at the VIP food market, Bancroft Street and Ashland Avenue, and that other residents in the apartments where he lives were "panicking" about their food-stamp cards not working.