Oklahoma is not the only state that was affected. Media outlets outside of Oklahoma reported several other states where residents were being declined access to their benefits Saturday.
Powell said the system failure was not related to the federal government's partial shutdown.
“As you can imagine, there was a lot of concern and speculation of the cause of the system outage,” Powell said. “There were some cashiers at some grocery stores that were telling consumers it was due to the federal government shutdown, but that is absolutely not the case. I have talked with our contact at U.S. Department of Agriculture, and this is not a problem with the SNAP program itself.”
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program enables low-income families to buy food with Electronic Benefits Transfer cards, according to the state agency. SNAP recipients spend their benefits to buy eligible food in authorized stores, DHS said.
On average, more than 600,000 children and adults in Oklahoma use the program to buy food.
The power outage at Xerox also affected the debit card system that the state agency uses to administer cash benefits for Temporary Assistance For Needy Families, foster care payments, adoption assistance and child support.
That system was working again Saturday afternoon, Powell said.
Xerox had authorized some retailers, including Walmart, to revert to manual systems, Powell said. The workaround let people access up to $50 of their benefits until Xerox restored the system.
Only retailers that contract with the U.S. Agriculture Department's Food and Nutrition Service were allowed to use their manual systems, she said.