Arizona EBT cardholders were dismayed to reach the grocery store register last month and find out their SNAP funds had expired without notice.
“It is chaos not being advised, or notified that your EBT expired,” Bruce Cole said regarding his expired card.
Bruce Cole, a disabled vet, receives the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) formerly known as food stamps, from Arizona Department of Economic Security (AZDES).
Cole, who does not work due to disability, said he is grateful for the help that he receives from AZDES and the SNAP program, however, participants in his same condition rely heavily on their EBT cards to feed themselves and their families.
He said he found out his EBT card had expired when he called AZDES to change his PIN on his card in the last week of June.
“The automated phone system just said, ‘your benefits expired’,” he explained. He called four times and received an automated message that stated the system is down and to call back later.
Cole said the message AZDES told SNAP clients was their EBT cards expired due to a “vendor issue.” However, they were not getting notified to reapply for SNAP benefits.
AZDES explained what had happened in June this year.
“As a separate issue, the vendor through which the State of Arizona prints and mails correspondence and paper checks experienced a cyber-attack in June, resulting in the company taking their systems offline nationwide,” AZDES Press Secretary Tasya C. Peterson said in a statement to Tucson Local Media.
She stated, “No state systems were compromised, and ADOA (Arizona Department of Administration) and the Arizona Department of Homeland Security worked to ensure all state systems were protected during the outage.”
“The outage affected the work of four state agencies, including DES and various programs including the Supplemental Nutrition