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Computer Glitch Shuts Down Food Stamp Access In 15 States, Including Md.

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(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

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Pat Warren joined the Eyewitness News team in 1992. Pat came to WJZ...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ)—It was a cash-only day for Marylanders who typically buy groceries with food stamps. A computer glitch caused chaos in the aisles of supermarkets here and around the country, temporarily shutting down access.

Pat Warren has more on the complications.

The immediate assumption was that it was caused by the government shutdown, but that turned out to be wrong.

Thousands of shoppers go home empty-handed after a computer failure prevents them from using electronic food stamp cards.

“When we went to go use them today after 12 o’clock – no food stamps,” said Lakendra Washington.

Shoppers in Maryland and more than a dozen other states had to leave their groceries behind, and like Washington’s sister, called others to let them know.

“She was like, ‘I went to CVS and the machines were down there, went to 7-Eleven and machines were down there,’” Washington said. “So we decided to call the card, and it says that you can’t get your balance. You can’t do anything until further notice.”

It was a computer system failure, not related to the government shutdown, but Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake sees a bigger picture.

“It just underscores the vulnerability of so many of our population. You know right now with the fear of government shutdown, people are feeling that the rug is being pulled out from under them,” the mayor said.

”We have four children that live in our home. It’s us two adults and there’s only one income right now, and food is expensive,” Washington said.

“Yeah it is, so we rely on them every month,” Diggs said. “I pray that it’s just a glitch because if not, things will be hard for a lot of people.”

While the U.S. Department of Agriculture says the temporary glitch was not related to the government furloughs, its own website is down because of the government shutdown.

The glitch has been resolved, and independence cards should be reactivated.

Mayor Rawlings-Blake advises Maryland residents to call the state’s 211 service line if they need help finding food.

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