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How to Tell if a Restaurant Accepts Food Stamps

How to Tell if a Restaurant Accepts Food Stamps

As more and more states decide to participate in the Restaurant Meals Program, we’re getting more and more questions about how to tell if a restaurant accepts food stamps.

See, the Restaurant Meals Program can be very complicated. Only certain people in certain states can use it, and even then you can only use it at specific restaurants. Each individual location has to be approved, so you always have to be careful to make sure you’re at the right location.

For example, a city can have 10 Subway location but only a few of them might accept EBT. If you go to the wrong one, you won’t be able to pay for your meal with food benefits. That could be awkward and it would definitely be a waste of time.

So… how can you be sure that a restaurant is set up to process food stamps benefits?

How to Tell if a Restaurant Accepts Food Stamps

There are three strategies you can use to determine if a restaurant will accept your food stamps benefits.

Look for an EBT near the door.

Most grocery stores and restaurants that accept EBT will put a sticker or sign on the door indicating their participation. They do this for marketing purposes, and to make it easier for you to know where you can spend your benefits.

For example, all of Papa Murphy’s 1,150+ locations are set up to accept SNAP EBT benefits. To my knowledge, every location has a sticker on or near the door that indicates that they can accept those food benefits.

Restaurants that accept EBT may have a basic EBT sign or they may have the “fork and knife” logo of the Restaurant Meals Program. If it’s a simple EBT sticker, you may have to clarify with the establishment if they accept food stamps or just cash benefits.

Check the Low Income Relief address list.

In order to make it easy for you to tell if a restaurant accepts EBT, we have a list of exact locations that we update multiple times per year. This list shows the exact location of the various restaurants that accept EBT.

If you are curious about these restaurants, please click their names for a list of addresses that accept EBT:

  • Arby’s
  • Burger King
  • Carl’s Jr.
  • Dairy Queen
  • Del Taco
  • Denny’s
  • Dickey’s BBQ Pit
  • Domino’s Pizza
  • El Pollo Loco
  • Firehouse Subs
  • Jack in the Box
  • KFC
  • Little Caesar’s Pizza
  • McDonald’s
  • Panda Express
  • Papa John’s
  • Pizza Hut
  • Popeye’s
  • Rally’s Hamburger
  • Subway
  • Taco Bell
  • Wendy’s
  • Wing Stop

Of course, there are also smaller, locally-owned restaurants that are approved to accept EBT. To find the addresses for those, you’ll need to visit our state-by-state Restaurant Meals Program directory.

It’s important to check the list ahead of time so you don’t waste your time travelling or ordering food that you cannot pay for with your benefits. We know firsthand what it’s like to have a payment declined and it’s not a great situation for anyone.

Call ahead and ask.

If all else fails, you can always call ahead and ask. Any restaurant that is set up to process SNAP EBT payments should be able to confirm that they can process those payments. They can also clarify what food you can order, how much it will cost, and if there are any restrictions on hours.

5 Things You Need to Know

There are a few things you need to know before you go to the restaurant. This is important, so don’t skip this section!

Only certain customers can buy restaurant meals.

Some locations, like Papa Murphy’s, can accept food stamps from anyone because they don’t count as restaurants.

However, most restaurants that accept EBT do so through the Restaurant Meals Program. This program is limited to users who are homeless, disabled or at least 60 years old. In order to purchase meals with your food stamps at those restaurants, you need to make sure that you are eligible and that your card is enabled for those purchases. Otherwise, the payment will be declined.

There may be restrictions on hours.

Some states allow restaurants to set limitations on what hours they will process EBT benefits. Presumably, this is to protect the business from being overwhelmed during peak times like dinner or holidays. Since they earn less for EBT orders, it makes sense that the business owners would want to prioritize other customers during certain parts of the day or year.

However, those limitations are not usually advertised. You will need to speak to the restaurant staff in order to know for sure.

You can order takeout but not delivery.

Through the Restaurant Meals Program, you can order your meal to-go as long as you pay at the restaurant. You can even have an authorized user pick the meal up for you, as long as they are authorized on your EBT account.

However, you cannot have your meals delivered when you are paying with EBT benefits. Although this is inconvenient, it is designed to protect your benefits from theft. It’s important to plan accordingly.

They cannot charge sales tax or gratuity.

Restaurants that process EBT benefits have to promise the government that they will not charge sales tax or gratuity for meals paid for with food stamps. However, sometimes it sneaks through and you could accidentally pay for those things.

It’s important to always check your receipt and make sure that you weren’t wrongfully charged. As you know, food benefits don’t stretch very far. You can’t afford to pay for things that you weren’t supposed to be charged for in the first place.

If you see that you were charged for sales tax or gratuity on your meal, then you will need to take that up with the restaurant first. If they don’t fix it, then you can open a dispute by calling the number on the back of your EBT card.

You need to ask ahead if you’re using both food and cash benefits.

If you’re planning to order a meal that you can’t completely cover with food benefits, you may need to plan ahead. Some restaurants cannot split the payment between two payment methods. It just depends on how the restaurant’s processing system is set up.

For example, some states like Massachusetts have built their system so that any restaurant that can accept SNAP food benefits can also process EBT cash benefits. If you don’t have enough food money available, you should be able to pay with your cash benefits or another payment method without any issues.

However, that’s not always the case. Illinois recommends asking the restaurant before you order if they can process cash benefits. Not all of the restaurants that process food benefits can process cash benefits, so you may end up needing to pay with cash or debit card if you exceed the balance of your food benefits.


Of course, we get a lot of questions about this. Let’s answer the most common ones.

How can I tell if a restaurant accepts food stamps?

Look for an EBT sign or Restaurant Meals Program sign on the door. Most locations will have one. You can also check Low Income Relief’s address list to see if the location has been approved to process SNAP benefits.

Why can’t every location of a certain chain accept EBT?

Restaurant companies have pushed to make the Restaurant Meals Program national but so far their efforts have not succeeded. Until the law is changed, the program is governed by the states and each location has to apply separately.

What does the “we accept EBT” sign look like?

There is no set design. Some brands will create a custom sign that matches their overall branding. Others will use a basic sign that is provided by corporate or the government.

Nicole is the owner and lead researcher for Low Income Relief. She has over 20 years of professional research and writing experience, and she has been solely dedicated to investigating low income topics for the last 10 years. Nicole started Low Income Relief after a personal experience with poverty. When her husband was medically discharged from the US Army, their family experienced tremendous financial hardship. Nicole was able to gather help from multiple community agencies and move into a nearby low income housing unit in just two weeks! Since then, Nicole has been dedicated to helping low income families in crisis. She regularly spends hundreds of hours combing through countless resources to make sure that Low Income Relief has the most comprehensive and complete resource directories on the internet today. Prior to starting Low Income Relief, Nicole worked as a novelist, journalist, ghostwriter and content creator. Her work has been featured in various print and online publications, including USA Today, The Daily Herald, The Chronicle and more. Her work has also been featured by Google for Publishers and other leading industry publications.