What Restaurants Can You Use Food Stamps At – Popeyes is one of the world’s largest chicken restaurant chains, with more than 2,700 locations worldwide and a devoted customer base that swears it’s the best bird in the world. If you’re one of those customers and eligible for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, you can use your SNAP e-Benefits payment card at participating Popeyes restaurants—as long as you’re in good standing.

Popeyes is one of the restaurant chains that accepts SNAP EBT cards for purchases, according to FoodStampsNow. SNAP is a federal program designed for families who need financial assistance to buy food. Consumers used to pay with food stamps, but now use reloadable EBT debit cards. Although SNAP is part of the US Department of Agriculture, the program itself is administered at the state level.

What Restaurants Can You Use Food Stamps At

What Restaurants Can You Use Food Stamps At

Under the SNAP Restaurant Meals Program, eligible SNAP recipients can purchase meals at SNAP-authorized restaurants using their EBT cards, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture website. Participating restaurants must offer meals at discounted prices. In some cases, the program allows recipients to purchase food in the deli sections of participating grocery stores.

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The goal is to help SNAP recipients get hot, prepared meals at restaurants — something many can’t do at grocery stores.

To participate in the RMP, a restaurant must be located in a state that has an RMP; obtain approval from the state and provide a signed Food and Nutrition Service contract; and have authorization from FNS to receive SNAP benefits.

As previously reported by GOBankingRates, seven states have opted for RMP. It is widely available in Arizona and California, while five other states—Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Rhode Island and Virginia—offer the program in select cities or counties.

If you live in one of the states that offer RMP, make sure your local Popeyes is one of the participating locations.

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This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: Does Popeyes Accept SNAP Benefits, Allow Customers to Use EBT Food Stamps? A couple sits on the patio of a restaurant in Larkspur, California, in February. More states are following California’s lead and allowing some residents to use their food benefits for select meals at low-cost restaurants. Smith Collection/Gado/Sipa USA via The Associated Press

Rhona Reiss, a Maryland resident, started speaking out about loopholes in the food stamp program the day she learned it didn’t cover barbecue chicken. Under long-standing federal policy, the benefits cannot be used to buy hot or ready meals — even for older adults like Reiss, who is 77.

But that policy is changing in Maryland and in states across the country. In the past two years, six states have signed up to a little-used federal program that allows older adults to use their food benefits for select meals at low-cost restaurants.

What Restaurants Can You Use Food Stamps At

The Restaurant Meals program, as it is known, also includes people with disabilities and the homeless. The program is most widespread in California and Arizona, with new entrants such as Maryland and Illinois still expanding their operations.

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Nutrition experts and advocates say the program’s sudden growth is part of a larger effort to expand access to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known as SNAP, during the pandemic, as well as a delayed takeover of home cooking and federal nutrition assistance. American anti-hunger policy has long assumed that the best way to feed hungry people is to encourage them to cook for themselves.

But a growing group of advocates and academics have warned that many Americans no longer have the time, skills, resources or physical ability to prepare the kinds of recipes that lawmakers envisioned when they launched the nutrition assistance program, which will distribute $108 billion in benefits in 2021. . Reiss, who now volunteers with the Montgomery County Food Council in Maryland, testified to the state legislature about friends with arthritis too severe to hold a knife and acquaintances whose homes don’t have full, functioning kitchens.

“We’re just kind of ignoring the fact that there are populations that don’t have the means to prepare or store food,” said Mohammed Aly, executive director of the Orange County Poverty Alleviation Coalition, which fought to expand the Restaurant Meals program in California, “and that literally the poorest and most disadvantaged among us are completely left out of our national hunger relief program.

“The fact that only a handful of states have heard of this program or implemented it in any way — that absolutely has to change.”

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However, Restaurant Meals has faced challenges and opposition in several states, often over the nutrition and cost of the meals it offers. The program caused considerable controversy for allowing participants to eat at fast food chains.

And some states have found it difficult to implement, with fewer restaurants choosing to participate than advocates expected. For example, Illinois passed legislation two years ago, but has yet to implement a program.

“Just understand that this will allow individuals who receive food stamps with the intention of being able to go to the grocery store and buy the necessary supplies for the family, go to a restaurant and do the same thing,” the state of Virginia said. Rep. Robert Orrock during a floor debate in January 2020. “This now further dilutes the money they’re getting to allow them to go to a restaurant and get less food for more money.”

What Restaurants Can You Use Food Stamps At

Before the recent surge in interest in Restaurant Meals, the program had been shrinking for nearly two decades: from 19 states in 2003 to just four by 2018. Few states have released their reasons for leaving the program, which remains unclear even within federal welfare. bureaucracy. One former USDA official described Restaurant Meals as “a small, haphazard program for stepchildren,” an option that many welfare agencies have deprioritised or forgotten about since it became available in 1978.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

But advocates and politicians across the country credit California with reviving interest in Restaurant Meals. Since the early 2000s, 11 California counties have joined the program, often prompted by a homelessness crisis that has undermined traditional methods of food assistance.

Soup houses and food pantries were strained to keep up with growing camps in places like Fresno and Los Angeles. The homeless, meanwhile, had no safe way to store food, let alone cook it.

“We’ve heard these common sense questions like, ‘Why can I buy frozen pizza but not hot pizza?’ ‘Why can I buy raw chicken but not grilled meat?'” said Michael J. Wilson, director of Maryland Hunger Solutions, which she looked to California as she began her advocacy for the program. “And that forced us to re-examine … what programs exist to address these issues.” This often leads to Restaurant Meals.”

Six states — Arizona, California, Maryland, Michigan, Rhode Island and Virginia — now allow some SNAP recipients to eat at restaurants, and Illinois and New York have passed laws requiring their social service agencies to apply for the program. In 2019, the California legislature also passed a measure that expanded Restaurant Meals across the state, including small and rural counties that previously did not participate.

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While the program’s legislation has often passed largely along party lines, there are notable exceptions: California passed its law unanimously, and in Illinois, Senate Republican Leader Dan McConchie spoke out in favor of the program, citing personal difficulties he faces preparing meals in a wheelchair.

“We are always looking for ways to maximize SNAP benefits for our constituents, many of whom are disabled or seniors,” said New York Assemblywoman Karines Reyes, a Democrat who sponsored the state legislation and represents the Bronx. “The Restaurant Meals program is already a federal program and has been piloted in several states, so it was the perfect way for us to do that.”

In order to join Restaurant Meals, states must first demonstrate to the USDA that some high-needs populations are not well served by traditional food benefits. The program then allows members of three target populations — adults over 60, people with disabilities and the homeless and their spouses — to eat at low-cost, state-certified restaurants, often chains like Subway and McDonald’s.

What Restaurants Can You Use Food Stamps At

State or county welfare agencies must require participating restaurants to offer discounted meals to participants. They can also mandate that restaurants meet certain nutritional standards or include indoor seating, providing socialization and clean restrooms to people who might not otherwise have access. For many participants, the program is a “source of dignity” as well as food, said Andrew Cheyne, director of government affairs for the California Food Bank Association.

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“I know the whole menu at all these places,” said one older adult from California, who asked that her name not be withheld because of the stigma attached to food stamps. “I get salads from Subway. I get a $2 Burger King breakfast. It gets you, really – it’s a life saver.”

Said the company behind Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and KFC lobbied for national expansion. Several leading food policy experts, including New York University’s Marion Nestle, immediately pushed the program as material for fast food businesses. Michigan, citing concerns about poor nutrition, scrapped its program in 2013. California also considered scrapping it.

Recently, because the program came before the state of New York

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