DETROIT
01/04/2013 10:54 am ET Updated Jan 05, 2013

Michigan Bridge Card Error Leaves 85,000 Families Without Food Assistance

UPDATE: 12:30 p.m., Jan. 5 -- The Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget said Saturday they had finished restoring food assistance benefits to the more than 85,000 Bridge card holders that mistakenly did not receive their benefits this month.

UPDATE: 1:00 p.m. -- As of noon, food assistance benefits had been restored to nearly 50,000 Michigan residents who had mistakenly not received their monthly allotment on their Bridge card due to "human error." The error, which affected Bridge cards with the last digit of 0, has not yet been corrected for approximately 35,000 recipients.

The Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget expected to complete the process of fixing the error by the end of Friday.

Earlier:

What's being called a "human error" left more than 85,000 Michigan families without the food assistance they normally receive.

By Thursday, Bridge cards ending in the numeral 0 had not been loaded with monthly benefits, meaning one-tenth of enrolled families did not receive money for food assistance. The state Department of Technology, Management and Budget (DTMB) said in a statement that evening they were working to resolve the mistake. By Friday morning, they had fixed the error for 40,000 families.

“DTMB understands the hardship that this situation has caused Michigan families and the inconvenience to the businesses that serve them,” said spokesman Kurt Weiss. Weiss told The Huffington Post Friday they hoped to complete the process by the end of the day, and the department would work into the weekend if necessary. According to the spokesman, a file that was supposed to be sent was not, and the existing backup plan also failed.

According to the Detroit Free Press, Bridge Cards on average support 3 individuals, meaning as many as 250,000 people were possibly affected.

There are nearly 1.8 million recipients of food assistance in Michigan, according to the Department of Human Services and the Fair Food Network. A family receives $540 a month on average, according to the Associated Press.

Weiss told the Associated Press that the error was reported Thursday morning by Michigan grocers. They said, ‘We’re turning people away because their card was not loaded,’” Weiss said. “They had angry customers.”

The department said it would work to prevent similar problems in the future.

“We are working around the clock to correct the problem as quickly as possible and we will determine why it occurred,” Weiss said.

Recipients of food assistance can contact the customer service number at 1-888-678-8914 for updates and additional information.

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