If you’ve ever wondered who can buy restaurant meals with EBT, the answer may surprise you! There are a few limited options where everyone can purchase meals but for the most part, this program is limited to people who are unable to cook or store their own food at home.
Everyone can buy Papa Murphy’s with EBT.
Did you know that you can buy Papa Murphy’s with EBT? All of their 1,150+ locations are set up to process EBT benefits. That’s because their primary product, pizza, is sold cold and you have to take it home to bake it. Some of their items, like salads, are ready to eat when you pick them up.
Are you eligible for the Restaurant Meals Program?
If you are eligible for the Restaurant Meals Program, then you may also be able to purchase meals from restaurants like Burger King, Jack in the Box, and even Denny’s! This program is for people who cannot safely cook or store their own food at home.
Seniors may be eligible.
If you are over the age of 60 and you live in a participating state, then you may be eligible for the Restaurant Meals Program. If you are eligible, then your spouse will automatically be eligible also in most cases.
The program rules simply state that you must be at least 60 years old. It is not clear if you would have to do anything else to prove that you cannot cook or store food at home.
Disabled people may be eligible.
The Restaurant Meals Program also serves people who are disabled. These rules may vary by state. In states that participate, some some simply specify that you must be disabled while others specify that you must be receiving disability payments from a federal program like SSI or the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Typically, in states that specify that you must be receiving disability payments, they will expect veterans to have a 100% disability rating in order to be eligible. This is intended to limit eligibility to people who truly cannot cook or prepare their own meals at home.
Homeless people may be eligible.
Of course, it is impossible to cook or store food at home if you don’t have a home of your own. People who are homeless or inadequately housed may be eligible for the Restaurant Meals Program.
Homelessness can mean a lot of different things. Depending on your state’s rules, you may be considered homeless if you meet one of the following:
- You sleep outside.
- You sleep at a shelter.
- You live in a halfway house or transitional housing program.
- You live in a tent, car, hotel, or somewhere not suitable for long-term living.
- You live with friends or family members (for not more than 90 days at a single location).
If you meet any of those requirements, you may be eligible for the Restaurant Meals Program if you live in a state that participates.
You must live in a participating state.
The federal government has authorized the Restaurant Meals Program but only certain states have decided to implement it. You must be either homeless, disabled or over age 60+ and live in a participating area. This one isn’t optional.
There are a handful of states that have authorized this program. The programs are always developing, and we have a list of states that are participating in the Restaurant Meals Program that we keep updated for you.
What if only one member of your household qualifies?
In many cases, only one member of a household will be eligible to buy restaurant meals. In that case, it can get a little complicated.
In most of the states that I’ve researched, an eligible person’s spouse will automatically be considered eligible as long as they are the only two people on the account. The term “spouse” usually includes common-law husbands and wives, as well as long-term partners depending on the rules of your state government.
Let’s say that Jim is 72 and his wife Sally is 59. In most circumstances, both Jim and Sally would be considered eligible as long as they live in a participating state.
However, if Jim and Sally live with their able-bodied grandchildren, they may not be able to use the Restaurant Meals Program at participating restaurants. It depends on how their state handles it. Some states will allow it, but others will determine that the grandchildren should be preparing meals for Jim and Sally.
One workaround for this would be to make sure that Jim and Sally store their food and prepare their food separately from the rest of the family. If Jim and Sally live in a detached apartment on the property and do not share food with their grandchildren, they would be considered a separate household for SNAP purposes. Because they are a separate household, Jim and Sally would be the only people on the account and therefore eligible for the Restaurant Meals Program again.
FAQs about Restaurant Meals Program Eligibility
Why are there limits on who can buy restaurant meals with EBT?
The Restaurant Meals Program is designed to serve people who cannot cook or store food at home. It is not designed for all EBT users.
What should I do if I think I’m eligible?
Your caseworker should automatically enable your card so that you can purchase restaurant meals through the Restaurant Meals Program. If your card has not been enabled, contact your caseworker.