CHICAGO (STMW) — Purchases can again be made with food stamp bankcards, following a service outage that affected 17 states, including Illinois, state officials said.

Xerox, a contractor for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, was conducting “a routine test of backup systems” when their Electronic Benefit Transfer system temporarily shut down, said Xerox spokeswoman Karen Arena.

Residual delays were felt in several states, including Illinois which takes part in the program with Link Cards.

At about 9:30 p.m. an official for the Illinois Department of Human Services announced that food stamp service in the state had resumed.

The outage created a headache for shoppers earlier in the day.

Sandra Bottoms, who frequently shops at Woodman’s Market in west suburban North Aurora, uses a Link Card to shop for a disabled relative. While she was shopping Saturday afternoon, an employee announced over the intercom system that Link Cards could not be used.

At an Aldi in nearby Aurora, she learned the outage was larger than she initially thought.

“An employee said ‘[The] Link Card is not functioning anywhere’ and an older lady started crying and asked ‘where will I get food?’” Bottoms said.

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2013. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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