Power Outage Cuts Off Access To Food Stamps For Oklahomans, People Nationwide

Saturday, October 12th 2013, 5:30 pm
By: News 9

The Oklahoma Department of Humans Services said Saturday access to some state-issued debit and EBT cards was down much of the day due to a power outage. People across several states, including Oklahoma, were unable to access their food stamps.

Sheree Powell with DHS said Xerox made them aware of the outage at their data center Saturday morning, and said technicians were working to resolve the problem as quickly as possible. Xerox said the system was up and running by Saturday evening, although some retailers were still experiencing connectivity issues.

Powell stressed the problem had nothing to do with the partial government shutdown. She said the outage mostly affected recipients of food assistance and child care services.

10/12/2013 Related Story: Oklahoma Food Stamp System Goes Down Saturday

"They had gone to the store and I guess went in and got cut off," explained Mindy McGuire.

McGuire's stepmother called Saturday morning telling her about the problem while she was trying to check-out at a grocery store. McGuire said when she heard about the problem she called about her state-issued card.

"When you call the cards, it says, 'we're sorry, we're temporarily unable to process your request.'"

McGuire said neither her stepmother nor her sister could access their food assistance money on the EBT cards, so they were forced to leave their groceries behind. The mother of four tried her card after hearing about the problem. It didn't work either.

"My Oklahoma debit card won't work, which is how I get my child support is through the state. You know, on a debit card and it's not working at all," explained McGuire. "That's my money. That's how I pay my bills, that's how I feed my kids, that's how, you know, a lot of people, you know, depend on those cards."

The outage infuriated some Oklahomans trying to access their state-issued funds. McGuire said she panicked.

"My child support is automatically, you know, put on that card every month. Now I have child support sitting on that card and I can't touch it. It's like that's my money. I need that, you know? That's how I survive," McGuire said.

News 9 received hundreds of calls, emails and Facebook comments about the problem on Saturday.

Retailers that are having problems with the system can issue an emergency voucher, which allows people to immediately access up to $50 worth of food.