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Illinois Residents Able to Access SNAP Benefits After Tech Glitch Fixed

By Alex Parker | October 12, 2013 2:57pm | Updated on October 12, 2013 11:20pm
 Illinois residents are unable to access their SNAP benefits after a power outage, officials said.
Illinois residents are unable to access their SNAP benefits after a power outage, officials said.
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CHICAGO — Illinois residents hoping to use their food stamp benefits were stymied much of Saturday after a power outage temporarily knocked the system down.

The problem was resolved Saturday night, said representatives from Xerox, which manages Illinois' SNAP program disbursements.

The SNAP program, which allocates funds to LINK cards, was unavailable for most of Saturday after a power outage affected the company that administers the program, said Januari Smith, a spokeswoman with the Illinois Department of Human Services.

More than 2 million Illinois residents are enrolled in the program, she said.

Food stamp programs in 16 other states were affected, as well, she said. Smith said the problem was not related to the government shutdown.

"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," said Xerox spokeswoman Jennifer Wasmer. "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."

Krissten Penik, the manager of the Aldi near Foster and Pulaski avenues, said the outage had caused havoc at the Northwest Side store.

"We've been spending all day restocking groceries, because people have just had to leave them and go," Penik said. "It has been crazy."

Roseland resident Elizabeth Nix said she's heard from friends as far away as California who could not use their cards.

"I was going to the store this morning and it did not work and I called [DHS]," she said. "They can't even activate my card right now."