In a man on the street interview, posted to World Star Hip-Hop, residents on Los Angeles’ Skid Row threaten to tear the city apart over a hiccup in their welfare benefits.
The outage of the Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) system was apparently caused when the vendor Xerox Corp. was performing a routine check on their back up systems and it caused a system failure.
While there are some reports that the system has come back online now, the interruption to the service has caused some raised tempers.
“My heart goes out to people who don’t have food right now” one welfare recipient told WSHH.
Another man explained how he and his cohorts had been personally impacted by the failure of the system. “We had to cancel a picnic today cuz we were gonna use EBT cards to buy hamburgers and stuff.”
The man, wearing a Vietnam veterans hat, explained that he was organizing a cookout for veterans but had to cancel it due to the failure. “We couldn’t do it,” he said.
One man told WSHH the bare reality of what the system failure meant for him. “We don’t eat,” he said. “We don’t drink. We don’t have anything.”
But not all the shiftless takers were content merely to complain.
“They had better resolve something because if it stays like this there is gona be a uproar in the city of L.A.,” one public assistance layabout intoned. When asked to elaborate, he responded, “A Rodney King, baby”
October 15, 2013 – LOUISIANA – A couple of Louisiana Walmart stores will be stuck with most of the bill after food stamp recipients went on a colossal shopping spree when a power outage temporarily lifted their spending limits, state officials said today. Police were called to Walmart locations in Mansfield, La., and Springhill, La., on Saturday as shoppers cleaned out store shelves.
Springhill Police Chief Will Lynd said some customers were pushing more food than any household could store in a refrigerator and freezer. “I saw people drag out eight to ten grocery carts,” Lynd said. One person hauled away more than $700 worth of groceries, the chief said. Following the policy clarification by the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services, Walmart told ABCNews.com the incident was “isolated” and the company doesn’t believe it had any material impact to its U.S. business.
The shopping frenzy was triggered when the Electronic Benefits Transfer system went down because a back-up generator failed at 11 a.m. EST Saturday during a regularly-scheduled test, according to Xerox, a vendor for the EBT system and based in Norwalk, Conn. The bill could be a sizeable one for Walmart. Lynd said customers were “not unruly.”
There were no fights or arrests made, but the scene was still chaotic, he said. “It was definitely worse than Black Friday. It was worse than anything we had ever seen in this town,” Lynd said of Springhill, which is near the border with Arkansas. “There was no food left on any of the shelves, and no meat left. The grocery part of Walmart was totally decimated.”
Lynd said that around 9 p.m. CT on Saturday, a Walmart employee made an announcement on the intercom saying that the computer system had been restored and card limits had returned. At that time, customers left shopping carts full of food in store aisles, he said. In the Walmart store in Mansfield, about 80 miles south of Springhill, staff temporarily closed the store to new customers to prevent a fire hazard with the existing number of shoppers.
Mansfield’s Chief of Police Gary Hobbs said no arrests were made and there were no incidents besides customers “pushing and shoving.” Hobbs said there were reports that customers were checking out with six to eight shopping carts, then returning later in the day to purchase more.
Unlike Walmart, other grocery stores in town told customers they would not accept EBT cards until the card limits were evident again, Hobbs said. The EBT system was affected in 17 states, where individuals and households access programs like Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, and other programs.
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