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Store issue resolved

Karen Anderson, local representative, U.S. Rep. Jack Bergman, R-Watersmeet

K.I. SAWYER — After nearly three months of customers not being able to use their SNAP benefit cards at the Sawyer Village Shoppette, the problem has been resolved.

Karen Anderson of U.S. Rep. Jack Bergman’s Marquette office said staff received a call claiming the store’s equipment was unable to service residents who use SNAP benefits, a low-income food stamp system also called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

“The service was discontinued before Christmas,” Anderson said. “It’s a rural area and people were suffering from it. So, we got involved and contacted our USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) office.”

Store owner Larry Bertocchi said everything was up and running late last week.

“It could have been my fault, but I never saw any application saying I needed to fill anything out again,” he said.

Bertocchi said it was difficult to get the equipment needed to process the benefits turned on in a timely fashion due to the recent government shutdown.

“I’m not sure how many phone calls I made. It was hard to get through,” he said. “I would never get the same person on the phone twice.”

Once Bergman’s office reached out to the USDA, Bertocchi said the equipment was back on within a week. Bertocchi’s store of 35 years, Larry’s Family Foods in Gwinn, was able to accept SNAP benefits the entire time. Nonetheless, he said, he’s happy that everything at the Sawyer store is back to normal.

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