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SNAP, EBT outage causes headache for Hartford grocery store, customers

"We also had a lot of customers walking out of the store because of it," the general manager said.

HARTFORD, Conn. — The Electronic Benefits Transfer, EBT, used to purchase groceries was reported down across multiple states Sunday including Connecticut.

People on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, SNAP, use the EBT as a monthly credit card to shop for nutritional items. Key Food General Manager Luis Perez says a lot of their customers use this program to feed their families.

"It gives the customers broader opportunity to buy more items for their families so that also benefits us," he said. "A family of four with three kids maybe they’re not able to afford the food based on their salaries."

Perez says the outage was noticed around 11:30 a.m. and lasted three hours. Massachusetts and South Carolina also reported outages. During that time, he says there was a lot of confusion for both shoppers and the Frog Hollow store.

"We had a lot of customers putting stuff back. We had a lot of items in the front because customers weren’t able to afford it without the EBT," he said. "We also had a lot of customers walking out of the store because of it."

SNAP is a crucial part of many people's lives. Jendayi Scott-Miller with Angel of Edgewood, a nonprofit organization based on the city's northside, says a majority of those they serve in the Greater Hartford area utilize it. They are a community pantry and café.

"Majority of our families received SNAP benefits and EBT and they come in and those are the things that they talk about," she said. "Food is very expensive. People struggle with so many different issues in their lives that hinder them from either working or so many other things to be able to provide for their families."

Perez says this has happened before but never for this long. Scott-Miller says it's important this system remains in operation so people can purchase what they are going out to buy.

"They may be going to purchase baby formula or milk or the essential items to feed their children," she said.

Scott-Miller says they teach people how to stretch their budget to get the most they can using SNAP as it likely won't cover all they need. Perez says people need the convenience to grocery shop without having to make a far commute.

"Having a store where you can buy with the EBT it’s very convenient for them that way they don’t have to drive away 20, 30 minutes," he said.

There has not been any information released yet as to what caused the outage and how many people were impacted.

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