UPDATE 3:49 PM 10/12/13: The state Department of Job and Family Services confirms that a system outage has blocked access to food stamp benefits using the Ohio Direction Card.
The department's Deputy Director for Communication Benjamin Johnson tells WBNS-TV in Columbus that the EBT cash and food benefit system went down at 11 a.m. Saturday morning.
The TV station says the cash benefit part of the system is back up, but the food benefit system was still offline into Saturday afternoon.
Xerox, the vendor responsible for the system in Ohio and a number of other states, is working to fix the outage.
Johnson says benefit holders can spend up to $50 in the meantime by calling the 800 number on the back of their card and getting help from Xerox.
He told the TV station that it was - quote - "highly unlikely" that the outage is related to the government shutdown.
UPDATE 2:30 PM 10/12/13: WJTV-TV in Jackson, Mississippi reports that 17 states are affected by an equipment problem in the EBT network, and that officials in that state expect the network to return to normal operation soon.
Several reports say that Ohio's EBT network, used to redeem food stamp benefits for those with Ohio Direction Cards, is down this Saturday.
Shortly before noon Saturday, an AkronNewsNow reporter saw a customer's EBT purchase at Acme #1 on West Market Street in Akron's Wallhaven area refused due to a network outage.
WBNS-TV in Columbus quotes Benjamin Johnson, deputy director for the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, that the it is “highly unlikely the glitch is related to the government shutdown.”
Johnson tells the Columbus station that EBT users can still purchase with their Direction Cards, but retailers would have to "enter the information manually."
The outage appears to be affecting other states as well.
WSET-TV in Lynchburg, Virginia reports an outage in that state, and says it's been notified of a similar outage in Mississippi. There are other outage reports from Georgia and Michigan.
On the Web: WEWS NewsChannel 5, www.newsnet5.com
WKYC Channel 3, www.wkyc.com
WBNS-TV 10 (Columbus), www.10tv.com
WSET-TV Channel 13 (Lynchburg/Roanoke, VA), www.wset.com