FOOD stamp claimants who aren’t able to cook meals for themselves may be eligible to use benefits at fast-food chains.

More than 41.5million Americans get help from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) every month.

SNAP clients can now buy food at participating fast-food chains in select states


SNAP clients can now buy food at participating fast-food chains in select states

The program, once known as food stamps, has a restaurant meals program, which allows participating restaurants to accept the electronic benefits transfer (EBT) cards.

SNAP provides benefits to eligible low-income individuals and families.

The benefits are paid on a specific day each month, depending on your state.

The money is provided through an EBT card, which is used like a debit card, to buy food at authorized retail food stores. 

You must apply for SNAP in the state in which you live, and each state has a different application form and process.

The federal government has expanded the program to allow states to participate in the SNAP restaurant meals program (RMP).

The restaurant meals program (RMP) is a state option to allow certain SNAP clients, who might not be able to prepare meals for themselves or who do not have permanent housing for storing and preparing food, to be able to buy prepared meals at restaurants with their SNAP benefits.

Who is eligible to use their SNAP benefits at restaurants?

To be eligible for the restaurant meals program, SNAP clients must be certified for SNAP in a state that has an RMP.

All members of the household must be either:

  • Age 60 or older
  • Disabled: receives disability or blindness payments or receives disability retirement benefits from a governmental agency because of a disability considered permanent
  • Homeless
  • A spouse of a SNAP client who is eligible for the RMP

Which states have a SNAP restaurant meals program?

At least six states are recognized by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) as participants in the RMP.

The USDA is the federal agency that runs SNAP.

The following states operate a restaurant meals program:

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Maryland
  • Michigan
  • Rhode Island
  • Virginia

Illinois is piloting a restaurant meals program in DeWitt County and select zip codes in Cook County.

The restaurant must submit a request for authorization to accept EBT cards.

It must also be located in DeWitt County and Cook County with the zip codes: 60617, 60619, 60620 and 60628.

Chicago is represented within the Cook County zip codes.

New York is also implementing a statewide RMP pending approval from the USDA.

New York’s governor signed legislation in October 2021 paving the way for eligible SNAP recipients to use their benefits for prepared or hot food from participating restaurants and delis at reduced prices.

Which restaurants take part in the SNAP restaurant meals program?

Each restaurant will need to submit an application to their state’s SNAP RMP for approval.

The following chains participate in the program in select states:

  • Burger King
  • Denny’s
  • Domino’s Pizza
  • Jack in the Box
  • Jamba Juice
  • KFC
  • McDonald’s
  • Papa Murphy’s
  • Popeye’s
  • Pizza Hut
  • Rally’s Hamburgers
  • Subway
  • Taco Bell
  • Wendy’s

Keep in mind, not all fast-food chains accept EBT cards.

Participation will vary by location and state.

Each franchise is independently owned and/or operated, which means each restaurant will need authorization to be part of the RMP.

We explain what day of the month SNAP benefits are paid out each month.

Plus, when you need to re-certify to continue receiving SNAP benefits.

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