Are you wondering, “Where can I find fast food restaurants that accept EBT near me?”
You’re not alone. Around 42 million Americans receive SNAP benefits.
SNAP benefits are delivered to participants through an EBT card.
Recipients want to know where they can actually use their EBT card. Not all places accept food stamps as a form of payment, especially restaurants.
This is because food stamps are mostly designed for groceries, rather than the hot foods and meals you’d find at a fast-food place. That’s why there are many grocery stores that take EBT.
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Does that mean you can’t use your benefits at fast food restaurants? Heck, no! There are actually a few ways you can find fast food restaurants that accept EBT near you.
Below, I’ll cover how your EBT card works and how you may be able to use it at fast food places near you.
What is an EBT Card?
An Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card is a debit card that SNAP recipients can use to pay for eligible purchases at authorized retailers. EBT cards work like regular debit cards, where you can use them to pay for your purchases at the grocery store. It has a security PIN and a magnetic strip.
When you use your EBT card at a retailer, your SNAP EBT account is debited to reimburse the store for the food you purchased. EBT is used in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and Guam, and it has been the sole method for delivering SNAP benefits in all states since June 2004.
Now, an EBT card is different from a regular debit card because it can only be used to purchase certain items. Not all items are indeed SNAP-eligible.
This means that there will be some items you can’t purchase using your food stamps.
I’ll cover which types of items you can purchase below.
What can you buy with an EBT card?
Food stamps can be used to purchase cold foods and those that you prepare yourself at home.
So, you can use your SNAP-benefits to purchase items, like:
- Fruits and vegetables (fresh, frozen, or canned)
- Cooking oils, like olive oil and vegetable oil
- Poultry products like chicken and eggs
- Red meat, like steak, ribs, and ground beef
- Dairy products, like cheese, milk, and almond milk.
- Seafood, such as fish, shrimp, shellfish, and lobster.
- Pork products, like chops, sausages, bacon, and tenderloin.
- Breads and cereals, like pita bread, rye bread, tortillas, pasta, bagels, and rice.
- Desserts, like ice cream, cookies, or brownies
- Cold sandwiches
- Snack crackers
- Other foods such as snack foods
- Non-alcoholic beverages, such as soft drinks, like Sprite and Pepsi, and energy drinks like Red Bull.
- Seeds and plants that produce food for the household to eat
What can’t you buy with your SNAP benefits?
Not all items are indeed SNAP-eligible, which means you can’t use your EBT card to purchase them.
Here’s what you can’t buy with your EBT card:
- Beer, wine, liquor, cigarettes, or tobacco
- Vitamins, medicines, and supplements.
- Live animals (except shellfish, fish removed from water, and animals slaughtered prior to pick-up from the store).
- Foods that are hot when sold.
- Non-food items, such as:
- Cleaning supplies
- Paper products
- Pet foods
- Hygiene items
Can You Use an EBT Card at Restaurants?
As you saw in the section above, you can’t purchase foods that are hot at the point of sale using your food stamps. This means that the majority of SNAP recipients can’t use their EBT cards to pay for fast food.
Since SNAP benefits are designed for purchasing cold foods that you can prepare at home, this leaves people who’re disabled or unable to cook for themselves with few options. That’s why the Restaurant Meals Program was launched.
The Restaurant Meals Program is a state-run program that allows elderly, homeless, and disabled SNAP recipients to purchase food at SNAP authorized restaurants using their SNAP EBT cards.
So, in short, you can use your EBT at fast-food restaurants with RMP if:
- You live in a state that has a Restaurant Meals Program
- You qualify for the RMP
- You visit a restaurant that participates in the RMP
I’ll go into more detail below, including who’s eligible for the Restaurant Meals Program, which states participate, and how you can find fast food restaurants that accept EBT as a payment method.
Now, if you don’t happen to live in a state with an RMP, I’ll give you some options for using your EBT to buy fast food as well.
Who qualifies for the Restaurant Meals Program?
The Restaurant Meals Program is available to you if your SNAP household meets one or more of the following criteria:
The participant household must lack a fixed and regular nighttime residence, or be living in a shelter, halfway house, or a place not designed for sleeping.
The participant household must have only members who are 60 years old or older or an older individual who is his or her spouse.
The participant household must have only members who are designated disabled by a government entity, or a disabled individual and his or her spouse.
How to Find Fast Food Restaurants that Participate in EBT Near You
While 8 states have announced or have plans for an RMP, there are only 3 states that have actually implemented an RMP. These three states are:
- Rhode Island
In these states, a variety of fast-food restaurants accept EBT as a payment method. This means that you can purchase hot foods with your food stamps.
So, you can look out for participating restaurants that have signage that states “Participating Restaurant: SNAP Restaurant Meals Program” with the “Fork & Knife” logo displayed on the door or window. Some stores might just have a sign that says, “We welcome EBT,” “We accept EBT,” “EBT cards accepted here,” or some variation of that, again on the door or window.
Let’s take a look at fast food places that accept EBT in the above states…
Arizona is one of the states that have an RMP program and many restaurants throughout the state take EBT as a payment method. So, you will be able to use your food stamps to get things like pizza, fried chicken, tacos, and burgers.
Here are some fast-food restaurants that accept EBT in Arizona:
- 24th St. Pizza & Gyros
- Burger Shoppe
- CiCi’s Pizza
- Dairy Queen
- Domino’s Pizza
- El Pollo Loco
- Fat Sub
- Firestone Subs
- Golden Corral
- Harris and Smith Coffee Company
- Helpings Cafe and Market
- Jack in the Box
- Jimmy and Joe’s Pizzeria
- Moon Light Family Restaurant
- Papa John’s Pizza
- Papa Murphy’s
- Rally’s Hamburgers
- Smoke Dem Bones BBQ
- Speedy Street Tacos Corp
- Taco Bell
- Tasty Box
- Uncle Sam’s
- WaBa Grill
California actually has a really extensive Restaurant meals program that allows eligible recipients to use their CalFresh benefits (the name of SNAP in the state) to purchase hot, prepared food from participating restaurants in certain counties.
Here are the counties in California that participate in the RMP:
- Alameda County
- Fresno County
- Los Angeles County
- Mariposa County
- Monterey County
- Orange County
- Riverside County
- Sacramento County
- San Diego County
- San Francisco County
- San Luis Obispo County
- Santa Clara County
- Santa Cruz County
- Siskiyou County
- Tehama County
Here’s a list of fast-food places that accept EBT in California through the RMP:
- Burger King
- Carl’s Jr.
- Church’s Chicken
- Del Taco
- Domino’s Pizza
- El Pollo Loco
- Great Steaks
- Jack in the Box
- Jamba Juice
- Papa Murphy’s
- Pizza Hut
- Rally’s Hamburgers
- Taco Bell
Another state that has a restaurant meals program is Rhode Island. Now, the RMP in Rhode Island is not as extensive as those in Arizona and California. Unfortunately, there are only two fast food brands that participate in the RMP, which are:
- Federal Hill Pizza Restaurant
There are nine participating Subway restaurants and one Federal Hill Pizza Restaurant that accept EBT in Rhode Island.
Here are the addresses of the participating locations:
- 962 Cranston Street, Cranston
- 719 Westminster Street, Providence
- 583 Elmwood Avenue, Providence
- 579 Atwells Avenue, Providence
- 2 Kennedy Plaza, Providence
- 614 Pawtucket Avenue, Pawtucket
- 483 Clinton Street, Woonsocket
- 310 Broad Street, Central Falls
- 258 Post Road (Walmart), Westerly
Federal Hill Pizza:
- 1039 Chalkstone Avenue Providence
States that Have Planned to Launch an RMP
Okay, so as you can see, currently, there are only 3 states that have actually implemented a Restaurant Meals Program. If you are fortunate enough to live in one of those states, then great for you.
Thankfully, about 4 more states have mentioned launching an RMP. Some states have made announcements and others have even started inviting local restaurants to participate in the program.
This means that, eventually, SNAP recipients in these states will be able to start using their SNAP benefits to purchase food at fast food places.
Here are some states that plan to launch an RMP…
In December 2020, Michigan announced that it was going to launch a Restaurant Meals Program.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer stated at the time:
- “No Michigander should worry about how to put food on the table for themselves and their families, especially during a pandemic. This partnership with our restaurants will ensure people across the state have the support they need this winter. I am grateful for the restaurants that participate in this program and will continue to work around the clock to ensure support for every family.”
Sadly, though, the Restaurant Meals Program is still yet to launch in Michigan.
So, right now, there is no list of participating restaurants available. In the future though, you may be able to use your EBT card at participating fast food places in Michigan.
According to the official state website, a list of restaurants participating in the Restaurant Meal Program in Michigan will be coming soon. Check back here for updates.
According to the official state website, Illinois has elected to participate in the SNAP Restaurant Meals Program starting late summer of 2021.
In the state, the RMP will allow qualifying SNAP households to utilize their SNAP benefits to purchase hot meals at participating restaurants.
According to the site, restaurants are eligible to apply to participate in the SNAP Restaurant Meals Program if it resides in Dewitt County or Cook County with the following zip codes: 60619, 60620, 60628 and 60617.
Illinois will be rolling the program out to selected areas over a period of time. So, right now, there isn’t a list of restaurants available on the site.
However, in the future, you may be able to use your EBT card at fast food places in Illinois.
The Maryland Department of Human Services (DHS) is piloting the RMP in select Maryland Counties. According to the official state website, additional jurisdictions will be added as the program expands to other jurisdictions.
Currently, the DHS is actively seeking restaurants to participate in the RMP.
Check on the website linked above to learn more about the RMP in Maryland.
There are not many details on the purported RMP program in Hawaii. I did, however, find mention of it from the Hawaii government in a PDF, which you can check out here for more details. This suggests that Hawaii could be planning an RMP in the future.
In October 2021, New York Governor, Kathy Hochul signed legislation to help homeless, disabled and elderly SNAP-recipients to purchase prepared meals.
This legislation creates a statewide Restaurant Meals Program.
At the time, Governor Hochul said:
- “It’s unconscionable that in a state as prosperous as New York, many residents still struggle to get enough food to feed their families. The vital actions we’re taking—establishing two restaurant programs to help the most vulnerable New Yorkers feed themselves and help restaurants recover from this terrible pandemic—will work in tandem to put food on the table in homes across the state. This pandemic continues to impact the wallets and homes of a vast number of New Yorkers, and we’re taking any and all actions to help them support themselves and their loved ones.”
The program is currently accepting applications from New York fast food restaurants. Once the program has been launched fully, you may be able to use your EBT card to purchase hot and prepared meals at fast food places.
How to Use Your EBT Card at Fast Food Restaurants in States that Don’t Have an RMP
Okay, so, what if your state doesn’t have a Restaurant Meal Program?
Well, you are pretty limited in your options here. As I said earlier, SNAP benefits are designed to help those in need purchase foods from the grocery store that can be prepared at home. It’s not designed for items that are hot at the point of sale. This can be really limiting.
There are two places that accept EBT state-wide.
Starbucks does NOT accept EBT cards at any of its company-owned stores, so you’ll have no luck there.
HOWEVER, Starbucks does accept EBT at some of its licensed stores that are located in grocery stores and retail stores.
Fortunately, there are more than 6,300 licensed Starbucks stores in the United States.
Yup! So that’s plenty of places where you may be able to use your food stamps.
You may be able to use your food stamps when you visit a Starbucks inside places like:
- Fred Meyer
- And other grocery chains that accept food stamps
You can use your EBT card to purchase SNAP-eligible items. As I’ve mentioned, you can’t use food stamps for hot foods or drinks.
You could use your food stamps at Starbucks to buy cold drinks and foods, however.
Here’s what you may be able to use your EBT card on at Starbucks-licensed stores:
- Instant coffee
- Coffee beans
- Ground coffee
- Pumpkin bread
- Cold beverages
- Soft drinks
- Energy drinks
Usually, anything that has a nutritional label on it, aside from hot foods and drinks, is EBT-eligible. Just avoid foods that are hot at the point of sale.
Okay, so another fast-food place that accepts EBT is Papa Murphy’s. The majority of the company’s independently owned franchises are set up to accept EBT cards as a form of payment in-store. But, you can’t use your EBT for online purchases.
Because you have to take Papa Murphy’s pizzas home to bake them yourself, the food you get from there is considered to be SNAP-eligible.
Restaurants that DON’T Accept EBT
Okay, there are a lot of restaurants that do accept EBT, mostly in states with an RMP of course.
However, not all restaurants take food stamps,
Here is a list of fast-food restaurants that don’t accept EBT, even in states that participate in the Restaurant Meals Program:
- A&W Restaurants
- Dairy Queen
- Dunkin’ Donuts
- Einstein Bros. Bagels
- Five Guys
- In-N-Out Burger
- Krispy Kreme
- Long John Silver’s
- Panda Express
- Panera Bread
- Qdoba Mexican Grill
- Shake Shack
- Starbucks (except for licensed stores)
- Tim Hortons
If you want to use your EBT card at fast food restaurants near you, then you will need to either live in a state that has an RMP and qualify for it or try a local Starbucks or Papa Murphy’s.
You can also try just purchasing cold items. Some Subway restaurants accept EBT for example on foods that are cold. But, otherwise, you won’t have much luck. Really, you need to live in a state where there is an RMP available and meet the criteria to receive those benefits.
Thankfully, more states are rolling out an RMP which hopefully means that there will be more fast food restaurants that take EBT near you so more people will get access to hot foods.