The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as Food Stamps, is a federally funded program which provides eligible, low-income individuals and families assistance to avoid food instability. The program however is run at a state level which means benefits vary state by state.
Certain states participate in the SNAP Restaurant Meals Program, which allows the elderly, disabled, and homeless to use their SNAP EBT card at authorized restaurants. Here’s what you need to know…
SNAP: how to apply and how it works
There are strict eligibility requirements to qualify for SNAP benefits. If you want to sign up for food stamps, you must apply through the agency in your state that runs the program. As of October 2021, over 41 million people were receiving SNAP benefits according to data from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).
The state agency will issue an EBT card to those who are approved to participate in the SNAP program. This debit card can be used to buy certain foods approved by the USDA. Likewise, the EBT card can only be used at merchant locations that have been approved. The USDA provides a SNAP retail locator.
Each state manages their own program and pays out benefits on a different schedule. In 2022 the USDA is offering a boost to food stamp assistance for families but only 37 states have signed-up to participate.
Not everyone has the space or skills to prepare food, but only a handful of states are participating in a SNAP program that allows them to buy select prepared foods. https://t.co/yO3vYMTdIs
— TalkPoverty.org (@TalkPoverty) January 11, 2022
SNAP Restaurant Meals Program
For those who have difficulty or lack the ability to prepare food at home as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program was designed, there exists the Restaurant Meals Program.
As part of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program the USDA has made it possible for the elderly, disabled, and homeless, within its target population, to use their SNAP EBT cards for purchases at authorized restaurants. This includes hot food or food intended for immediate consumption, something not available to other SNAP recipients. Participating restaurants must offer the meals at reduced prices.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Restaurant Meals Program is available in a limited number of states and even then may be limited to certain counties. Participating states include:
We’re also establishing a statewide restaurant meals program as part of SNAP.
Signed into law today, the Restaurant Meals Program Act will ensure that those who are most in need in our state can use their benefits and put food on the table. pic.twitter.com/vT315I25pH
— Kathy Hochul (@GovKathyHochul) October 4, 2021
The target population for Restaurant Meal Program
In order to qualify for the SNAP Restaurant Meal Program an individual or household must meet certain requirements. These may include:
The person must be 60 or older. A household must have only members who are 60 or older, including an elderly individual and his or her spouse.
The person must be designated disabled by a government entity. A household must have only members who meet the definition of disabled, or a disabled individual and his or her spouse.
The person or household must lack a fixed and regular night-time residence or be living in a place not designated for sleeping. Also, those who are living in a halfway house, shelter or staying temporarily (90 days or less) in the home of another person.