LANSING (WWJ/AP) - Michigan officials are still working Friday to fix an error that has left 85,000 recipients of food assistance without money on their state-issued Bridge Cards.
Michigan's Department of Technology, Management & Budget said they've been working since Thursday to fix the problem after hearing from groceries and angry customers. They said the electronic debit cards weren't loaded with money as expected because of an unspecified "human error."
Late Friday morning, state officials reported 40,000 Bridge Cards had been loaded. The goal is to add money to all of the affected cards by day's end.
"It's 85,000 card holders and their family members. The average card holder services about four to five folks in their family, roughly about $500 on average, about $540 gets put on to that card each month for them," spokesman Kurt Weiss told WWJ Newsradio 950.
The problem is affecting about one-tenth of the state's 1.8 million food assistance recipients, those with account numbers ending in "0."
Recipients typically know the day each month that money is added to their card and many time their first trip to the store accordingly, Weiss said. A phone line for Bridge Card users "exploded," he said, with calls Thursday quadrupling from 3,000 in a normal day to more than 13,000.
"Grocers and retailers across the state who are servicing these customers are put in a bad situation because they are, you know, having to turn folks away and that's certainly not the position we want to put those retailers in and we certainly issued our apologies to those folks as well," said Weiss.
Recipients of food assistance can call 888-678-8914 for updates. Bridge Cards are given to both welfare and food stamp recipients in Michigan.
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