Bridge card collapse
By Phreddy Wischusen
The Michigan Citizen
UPDATE: Access has been restored for food stamp users in Michigan and 16 other states, including Texas and Ohio. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture the downed system was not due to the government shutdown. Xerox Corp., the company responsible for the system, said the temporary failure was a result of a routine test of backup systems, according to reports.
The government shutdown means no groceries this weekend for many Michigan families. The EBT system is down nationwide. The State of Michigan has confirmed the system for SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) and WIC (Women, Infant and Children) beneficiaries use to receive food stamps and pay for their groceries using a card, called the Bridge Card in Michigan is down. They, however, say the shutdown is not the cause, although several other states are experiencing system failures.
In Royal Oak, Mich., Jennifer Shea, a single mother of three, received no notice of the shutdown before trying to use her Bridge Card at a local market. When it was declined, the cashier told her it due to the government shutdown. Shea’s calls to her caseworker at the Michigan Department of Human Services have not yet been returned, and likely won’t be until Monday. Currently, the national EBT Web site is down as well. Shea is worried. “I use my card every Saturday, so I have fresh produce. If my (SNAP) funds aren’t available on Monday, I don’t know how I’m going to feed my kids,” she said. “What about school lunch? If there’s no Bridge Card, will the school lunch programs be operating next week?”
Because the Web site is down, and government offices are closed for the weekend, beneficiaries are unsure of when their food stamps will be available, or if school lunch programs will be operating.
Citizens relying on SNAP are not the only ones suffering. Frank Ayar of Walter’s Shopping Place in Hamtramck says within hours of the EBT system failure he had already lost a lot of business. “Customers are just leaving their stuff and walking out,” he said.