Floridians who receive food assistance benefits will not be able to buy groceries for much of Monday, Sept. 16.
That’s because the Florida Department of Children and Families is switching to a new vendor to provide Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) services to recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) – formerly known as food stamps.
“Our message is to be prepared. And that’s why we released benefits early on Tuesday to give EBT benefits ample time to get groceries early or whatever they may need to prepare for this one-day delay,” DCF press secretary Whitney Ray said.
The benefits released Tuesday normally would have been issued between Wednesday and Sunday.
Customers will not be able to use their EBT cards as the system goes offline starting at midnight on Monday. They are expected to be able to use them again by Monday evening, if not sooner. Ray said the goal is to have the system operational again by the afternoon.
Customers don’t need a new card and nothing about their balances will change because of the transition, he said.
The switch in contractors from a subsidiary of J.P. Morgan to e-Funds, a subsidiary of FIS Government Services, will save the state $21 million over three years, Ray said.
He also said that e-Funds will provide additional antifraud support staff watching EBT transactions in real time to stop fraud as it happens. That could help the state avoid the cost of up to $4 million in EBT and benefits fraud each year for the next three years, Ray said.
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