UPDATE: 3:53 p.m. EST: The issues with EBT processing were solved Wednesday afternoon and the USDA planned to continue monitoring the situation while looking for the cause of the processing problems.

Original story:

The system that allows recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to use Electronic Benefit Transfer cards in place of physical food stamps was down on Wednesday preventing people from checking their balances or purchasing food. 

Multiple reports on the website Down Detector said the system wasn't working for recipients of the benefits nationwide and that the issues had been persisting for several days. A map of the reports, as well as comments sent to the site, shows that people all around the country were having trouble. 

The reports contained complaints mostly regarding payment problems and issues with the website that carries the balance of recipients accounts. Each state has a website where individuals can check their EBT account information, including balance and transaction histories.

The EBT cards allow those who receive the benefits to use their funds for food items at certain retailers. SNAP distributes money onto the EBT cards for those who are eligible and receive the benefits.

SNAP is "the largest program in the domestic hunger safety net" according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The program requires that recipients meet certain work requirements unless they are exempt because of a disability or their age. Two-thirds of all participants in the program are children, seniors, or those with disabilities. 

SNAP can be used for the purchase of food for a household to consume, like fruits and vegetables, meats, dairy, and even plants or seeds that can grow and produce food for the home. Items like alcohol, toiletries, vitamins, or food generally consumed in a store are not eligible for purchase through SNAP.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the USDA was aware of outages in certain states across the country and was working with the EBT provider to solve the problem as soon as possible.

snap ebt map This screenshot of the Down Detector website at 11:40 a.m. Jan. 3, 2017, show where the reports of the SNAP EBT system outage were coming from. Photo: Down Detector/Screenshot