Fast food restaurants that accept EBT?! It’s true, folks. This is fresh from the fact-checker! If you’ve ever wondered if you can use your EBT benefits at fast food restaurants, the answer is yes… but only in certain circumstances.
Idahodoes not offer a Restaurant Meals Program but they do offer other benefits, like discounted spay/neuter service, weatherization assistance and discounted museum programs!
Illinois invites you to explore Shedd Aquarium (FREE), Adler Planetarium ($1/person) and dozens of other venues for free or very cheap… but they don’t let you buy fast food with your EBT card.
Indianaoffers lots of museum discounts, discounted YMCA memberships and more… but no Restaurant Meals Program.
Iowaended their Restaurant Meals Program in February 2001. However, you can still get huge museum discounts, dollar-doubling at farmer’s markets and maybe even free hunting/fishing licenses!
Kansaswill double your dollars at farmer’s markets, provide recreation scholarships and more… but no fast food with your EBT card.
Kentuckydoesn’t offer the Restaurant Meals Program but they do have a discounted museum!
Louisianadoesn’t offer the Restaurant Meals Program but they do offer museum discounts, CSA coop discounts and more!
Maineoffers museum discounts, free farmer’s market produce and more to EBT card holders… but they don’t let you use your EBT card at restaurants.
Marylandwill give you discounted admission to three museums, double your money at farmer’s markets and more… but no restaurants with your EBT card.
Massachusettshas some excellent programs for EBT recipients! You can get discounts at over a dozen museums, participate in the Healthy Incentives Program and more! Unfortunately, they do not offer a Restaraunt Meals Program.
Montanawill double your money at community farms, provide museum discounts and more… but they do not participate in RMP.
Nebraskaoffers sliding-scale medical and dental services, free museum memberships and more! Hoewever, they do not participate in any restaurant programs.
Nevadawill let you shop at farmer’s markets and CSA programs but not any fast food venues.
New Hampshirecan help you save money on your power bill, provide discount veterinary care and more… but they don’t participate in any RMP programs.
New Jerseycan help EBT cardholders take care of their pets cheaper… but they won’t let you spend those food stamps dollars at restaurants.
New Mexico provides free museum memberships, double up food dollars programs and more… but no restaurant meals programs.
New Yorkhas some absolutely unbelievable benefits for EBT cardholders… but they still won’t let you spend your food stamps dollars at restaurants.
North Carolinaget free fishing licences and discounted museum entry… but NC doesn’t offer an RMP program.
North Dakotaoffers help with prescriptions, energy costs and more… but they won’t let you buy restaurant meals with that EBT card.
Ohiooffers discounts at nearly a dozen museums, YMCA discounts and more… but no RMP.
Oklahomaoffers other EBT benefits but no fast food or restaurant purchases.
Oregonhas some of the best EBT benefits we’ve found. They’ll even let you book concert tickets for $5! however, they still won’t let you use your food stamps at restaurants.
Pennsylvania offers EBT cardholders dozens of museum discounts. They even have discounts for minigolf and carousels! Unfortunately, they still won’t let you buy restaurant meals with your food stamps card.
Rhode Island residents who are age 60+, disabled or homeless (living in a shelter, halfway house, or even staying temporarily with someone else) can use their EBT benefits at certain participating restaurants.
In 2017, the list of Rhode Island restaurants that accept EBT include:
South Carolinaoffers $2 tickets to the Philharmonic, museum discounts and other deals… but no restaurant meals program.
South Dakotaoffers museum discounts, free u-pick strawberries and potentially even property tax discounts for EBT cardholders! Unfortunately, they do not authorize restaurant purchases for food stamps.
Tennesseeoffers some great deals with your EBT card, including a $25 per year family membership to Adventure Science Center in Nashville! However, they won’t let you use your food stamps to buy food at restaurants.
Texasoffers discounts at Houston Zoo and five other venues with your EBT card. Although they have other perks, they do not offer a RMP.
Utahdoesn’t offer a Restaurant Meals Program but they do offer museum discounts and other perks to those with EBT cards!
Vermont offers seasonal fuel assistance and other benefits to those with EBT cards… but they do not have a restaurant meals program.
Virginiahas a lot of different programs for EBT recipients but they don’t authorize restaurant purchases.
Washington has many discounted museums. Take-and-bake restaurants like Leonardi’s and Figaro’s will bake your pizzas for you for an extra non-EBT dollar. However, no other restaurants are authorized.
West VirginiaEBT cardholders can visit Spark! Imagination and Science Center for FREE and enjoy other benefits… but they can’t buy food at restaurants.
Wisconsinhas great museum discounts, CSA programs and other deals… but no RMP.
Wyominghas some epic farmer’s markets programs that will double your money and even give your children free money to spend! However, they don’t have RMP.
What is the purpose of the Restaurant Meals Program?
Aaron Lavalllee, communications coordinator for the USDA Office of Communications, wrote:
(The) Restaurant Meal Program has been an option for states — state run, state contracted, state administered — since the 1977 Food Stamp Act. The decision to establish a restaurant meal program is made entirely at the state level.
Most importantly, the ONLY people who qualify are the elderly, disabled, and homeless, as this provision is intended to assist people who are unable to prepare meals at home or in a traditional kitchen setting. This key fact and requirement of the law is mentioned nowhere in your article and we can both agree that with that clarification this story changes drastically.
Since 1977 the decision to establish a restaurant meal program has been made by only a handful of states and because of this participation is very low.
To help you, we’ve drafted a sample message below. You can copy and paste it, if you’d like – just be sure to change the names!
Dear [Elected Official],
Since 1977, the federal Food Stamp Act has given states the ability to enact the Restaurant Meals Program. This program allows vulnerable and at-risk populations, such as the homeless and elderly, who cannot cook meals for themselves at home. Through this program, these specific, qualifying individuals are allowed to use their food benefits to purchase affordable meals at select restaurants such as Subway. For more information about this program, you can visit LowIncomeRelief.com (https://lowincomerelief.com/fast-food-restaurants-ebt/).
This program has been successfully adopted in Arizona, California, Florida, Hawaii, Michigan, and Rhode Island. However, it is not yet available in our state.
Please take action to introduce the Restaurant Meals Program in our state.
Sincerely, [Your Name]
Keep me posted about any responses you receive! I’d love to see this program rolled out to other states where it can help those who need it! 🙂
I hate being broke - and I always have too much month at the end of my money. As a journalist, I decided it was time to use my skills to investigate ways that my family (and yours) could thrive despite our less-than-ideal incomes... and that's how Low Income Relief started.
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