The electronic system that allows welfare recipients to buy food with their benefits went down across Georgia and elsewhere on Saturday, including at stores in Augusta.
The Electronic Benefits Transfer system that lets people spend their Supplemental Nutrition Assistant Program benefits with payment cards was reportedly repaired late Saturday.
The effects of the EBT outage -- blamed on a technical problem that had nothing to do with the government shudown -- were felt in Augusta on Saturday, as some welfare recipients feared they would not be able to eat for a night.
Angelo Bates, 41, said he rode his bike more than two miles to Kroger on 15th Street before stopping short at the doors. Taped to the door was a neon pink sign that read, “Our EBT system is currently down!”
“I don’t believe it,” Bates said. “I came down here to get some groceries, but now I might have to go a day without eating.”
Bates said he makes the trip to Kroger at least once a week. He said the money on his EBT card is important because he has no other way to pay for food, he said.
“There are a lot of people out there who need that money,” he said. “I don’t spend it on anything else except for groceries. I guess it’s just one of those things. I don’t know what to do in the meantime.”
Easter Davis, 68, of Augusta, pushed an empty cart up to the store before she saw the sign. She said she walked more than three miles to the store to pick up groceries for the next two weeks.
She has been using an EBT card for more than four years and usually spends about $250 each trip, she said.
“I had no idea there was a problem,” she said. “I’ve never had something like this happen before. I don’t have much of a choice except to wait it out.”