US power outage shuts down food stamp program in 17 states

Food stamp recipientsin 17 states lost access to the electronic system used by storesto verify their benefits on Saturday, leaving many unable to buygroceries, the company that manages the system said.

People enrolled in the government food assistance programuse plastic vouchers similar to debit cards. Starting at about11 a.m. EDT (1500 GMT), some of those cards stopped working,Xerox spokesman Kevin Lightfoot said.

A power outage that started the problem was fixed within 20minutes, Lightfoot said, but shoppers continued to run intodifficulties throughout the day. By early evening, the problemstill had not been fixed.

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