(CNN) - A computer failure halted the processing of food stamp purchases in parts of the country Saturday, a Xerox spokeswoman confirmed.
A system shutdown began at 11 a.m. ET Saturday, spokeswoman Karen Arena said. She said Xerox, which is a contractor for the program, was working on the problem and planned a further statement later Saturday.
The food stamp program, officially known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, allows many beneficiaries to present a payment card at grocery stories. Those transactions were being prevented Saturday in unspecified parts of the country.
Statement from Xerox:
"During a routine test of our back-up systems Saturday morning, Xerox’s Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) system experienced a temporary shutdown.While the system is now up and running, beneficiaries in the 17 affected states continue to experience connectivity issues to access their benefits. This disruption impacts EBT beneficiaries who rely on the system for SNAP and WIC. Technical staff is addressing the issue and expect the system to be restored soon. Beneficiaries requiring access to their benefits can work with their local retailers who can activate an emergency voucher system where available. We appreciate our clients’ patience while we work through this outage as quickly as possible."