The food stamp program that provides assistance to thousands of low-income families was down statewide Saturday, but was restored about 9 p.m., officials said.
Sheree Powell, spokeswoman for the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, said she found out early Saturday afternoon that the system for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, often referred to as “food stamps,” was down throughout Oklahoma.
The system failure was due to a power outage at Xerox, which is the vendor for Oklahoma's SNAP benefits program.
About 9 p.m., Xerox issued a news release stating: “Beneficiary access to programs such as SNAP, TANF, and other programs has been restored to the 17 states where Xerox provides EBT service.
“Restarting 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 reoccur.”
Earlier in the afternoon Powell said Xerox was working on its system and that DHS would update its website to alert SNAP users when it was working again.
“Usually, benefits are disbursed on the 1st, 5th and 10th of each month, so I would imagine those people who got their benefits on their cards on the 10th are probably the ones experiencing problems right now,” Powell said. “I would imagine the other folks who received their benefits earlier have already done their shopping.”
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