The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Illinois:
Computer Cuts off Food Stamps

Jan 8, 2018

More than 100,000 qualified people who had followed all the rules had their food stamps cut off in Illinois in November and December, according to a caseworker estimate.

People on food stamps are required to submit a form every six months showing they are still eligible. A new computer system had been set up to turn off benefits automatically if the form had not been entered.

Illinois’ caseworkers are completely overwhelmed with work converting to this new system and entering all the case files. As they reported, there was no way the workers could manually enter everything required to keep the system running because they were “overworked and undertrained.” Vonceil Metts, the president of the local AFSCME union, explained that “everybody’s learning the new system, but the problem is we’re learning on the backs of poor people.”

As a result, people flooded food pantries and charities that give out food. “It’s happening to seniors, young moms, pregnant women, disability, veterans, people who are homeless,” said Diane Doherty, Executive Director of the Illinois Hunger Coalition. “I’ve just never in all my years seen something this dramatic happen to people especially at the holidays.”

The computer system that caused this problem was put in place by Deloitte, a gigantic accounting and professional services company. They have already billed 193 million dollars for the work. And unlike the people who need food benefits to survive, Deloitte will be paid on time.