Cooking is an everyday chore in most families. But for the elderly, people living with disabilities, or the homeless, it’s just another difficult hassle that adds to their life’s struggles. Thus, finding fast food places that take food stamps is a big plus for SNAP recipients.
Short Answer: Approved fast food restaurants accept EBT in states that participate in the Restaurant Meals Program. However, not all states participate in the RMP. Only a few states extend SNAP to allow the elderly, people with disabilities, and the homeless to purchase food at fast-food restaurants with their EBT cards. States that allow fast-food restaurants to take EBT for fast food delivery include Maryland, California, Illinois, Arizona, Rhode Island, and Michigan.
This article will help you understand the ins and outs of EBT food delivery, the Restaurant Meals Program, and what fast food places accept EBT.
What is SNAP and the Restaurants Meal Program (RMP)?
To help you understand everything, let’s get started with how SNAP and the Restaurant Meals Program work.
Starting in the 1960s, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) core is to fight poverty and eliminate hunger in the United States. To ensure everyone is well fed, SNAP provides nutritional benefits to supplement the food budget of children and low-income families so that they can eat better, live better, and move towards self-sufficiency.
As a general rule, SNAP benefits can only be used to purchase staple food for home preparation. That means SNAP recipients cannot use EBT cards to purchase hot prepared food at fast food joints and restaurants.
What about the elderly, the disabled, and the homeless who can’t or don’t have the means to make food at home and cook? The Restaurant Meals Program (RMP) comes to their aid.
Can I Buy Fast Food With SNAP and The Restaurant Meals Program (RMP)?
Yes, you can use your SNAP funds in select states that participate in The Restaurant Meals Program.
Introduced in 1978, the Restaurant Meals Program is part of the federal food stamps law. It’s a good-faith extension to those who can’t or don’t have the means to make their food at home.
RMP is meant to prevent hunger among the elderly, the disabled, and the homeless by allowing them to use their SNAP funds to buy hot meals at approved fast food places and restaurants. You are not just limited to grocery stores, donut shops, and bakeries that accept EBT.
Does that mean there is such a thing as EBT fast food delivery? If yes, what fast food places take food stamps?
Federal law leaves the discretion on whether or not to participate in the Restaurant Meals Program (RMP) to the states. Each state is at liberty to decide whether to allow EBT fast food delivery and sets the eligibility criteria for qualifying to use an EBT card to buy food at approved low-cost restaurants.
Generally, those who qualify for the Restaurant Meals Program must have a gross income level below the federal poverty line and be either elderly, disabled, or homeless. Even though federal law allows it, not many states participate in the Restaurant Meals Program. As such, there are only a few fast food places that accept EBT.
What is the difference between SNAP benefits and the Restaurant Meals Program?
While SNAP benefits that you get with an EBT card let you use your funds for food-related expenses, you can’t use them for items that you can eat in the store.
There are some exceptions to this rule (for example, Subway). However, most restaurants don’t accept SNAP benefits unless you have RMP benefits.
The eligibility for RMP has a few more requirements than the ones needed for SNAP benefits.
- You must be an adult of more than 60 years of age.
- You must be a person with a disability.
- You must be a person who has experienced homelessness.
- You must be a spouse of one of the above options.
If you fall into one of the categories mentioned above, you will be eligible for consideration for the RMP program.
Do Fast Food Restaurants Accept EBT?
Most of the time, those who qualify for EBT live with a disability, homeless, or elderly. That creates a problem: They either can’t cook or don’t have the means to prepare food at home. Unless they are allowed to purchase hot and prepared food at the point of sale, they may end up not getting the nutrition they need. The Restaurant Meals Program exists for that very reason.
Do fast food restaurants accept EBT to allow disadvantaged EBT cardholders to eat?
Participating fast food restaurants accept EBT in states that participate in the Restaurant Meals Program. Though, not all states participate in the program and allow people to purchase fast food at restaurants with their EBT cards. Currently, the only states that allow restaurants to accept EBT for fast food delivery include California, Arizona, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, and Rhode Island.
Since states don’t participate in the Restaurant Meals Program, SNAP recipients can only use EBT cards to purchase staple food items for preparation at home. If your state does not participate in the RMP, you cannot use EBT funds to purchase prepared foods or hot foods.
That said, most states don’t post information on fast food places that accept EBT online. You also won’t find restaurants that accept EBT cards shown as part of the RMP in USDA’s list of participating retailers.
To confirm, consider contacting your state benefits agency or your local benefits office for a complete list of fast-food restaurants that accept EBT locally.
What Food Delivery Apps Take EBT?
If you live in one of the states that participate in the Restaurant Meals Program (RMP), you probably know a few fast food places that accept EBT.
What about if you want to order a restaurant meal from the comfort of your house? With the rise of online shopping, finding a food delivery app that takes EBT can be a big plus to the disabled and the elderly who struggle with transportation. They cannot easily drive, take an Uber or Lyft, or book a taxi using Curb. Instead, you can have your food or groceries delivered right to your door!
Do food delivery apps take EBT?
Short Answer: UberEats and Instacart have recently started taking EBT. DoorDash, PostMates, and GrubHub don’t take EBT.
While many stores will take EBT cards for in-store purchases, ordering and buying food and groceries via online food delivery apps is still a new SNAP benefit. It’s only recently that SNAP launched a federal pilot program allowing states to add online purchasing as an option for EBT cardholders.
Under this federal pilot program, Instacart and UberEats have started to take EBT. Instacart doesn’t take EBT and SNAP benefits for grocery shopping at select retailers like Aldi, Walmart, and Whole Foods, while UberEats has begun accepting EBT payments for delivery fares.
But restaurant food delivery apps such as PostMates, GrubHub, and DoorDash don’t take EBT yet. Part of the reason is that you can’t use EBT to purchase hot or prepared restaurant food unless your state participates in the RMP. Since most states don’t extend SNAP to include the Restaurant Meals Program, online and mobile food delivery platforms steer clear of EBT payments.
Does Uber Eats Accept EBT?
Uber Eats is an online and mobile food ordering and delivery platform focused on delivering restaurant food to customers.
Can you use EBT on UberEats? Uber Eats is now accepting EBT to pay for fares, along with the compASS pass, known as UberpASS. However, UberEats doesn’t accept EBT as a payment method for restaurant food delivery.
Remember that UberEats is primarily a delivery service for local restaurants. SNAP recipients aren’t allowed to purchase hot or prepared food at restaurants because many states don’t participate in the Restaurant Meals Programs. It makes it difficult for restaurants to accept EBT or SNAP benefits. It’s part of the reason why you can’t use EBT on UberEats to purchase restaurant food from home.
Does it mean selling hot and prepared meals is the only reason UberEats doesn’t take EBT? It’s unlikely because you can also buy non-prepared and semi-prepared foods such as deli food at a store like Walmart via UberEats. Maybe UberEats doesn’t accept EBT because most food items can’t be purchased using EBT or SNAP funds. The company may not want to go through the hassle of verifying which items aren’t EBT or SNAP eligible.
Can You Use EBT on Postmates?
Postmates is another online food delivery service that offers local delivery and pickup of restaurant prepared meals and other goods from more than 600,000 restaurants, retailers, and grocers. The company operates food delivery in almost 3,000 US cities.
The only question is: does Postmates take EBT? Unfortunately, Postmates doesn’t accept EBT for food delivery. That means EBT cardholders can’t use their SNAP funds to make purchases on Postmates. Postmates mostly delivers hot, prepared restaurant meals, making most of its food items ineligible for EBT in most states in the US.
It also means that you can’t use your SNAP funds to purchase other food items for home preparation because Postmates doesn’t participate in the federal pilot program for EBT online purchases.
You should use Instacart, Amazon, or Walmart for online EBT purchases like groceries pre-packages deli foods.
Does DoorDash Accept EBT?
DoorDash is a great food delivery service if you want to order a restaurant meal from the comfort of your house. Can You Use EBT for DoorDash? Unfortunately, DoorDash doesn’t take food stamps, which means you can’t use your EBT to buy food or groceries on DoorDash.
It’s because DoorDash primarily focuses on delivering food for restaurants, most of which is hot, prepared food. You can’t use EBT to purchase hot and prepared foods at the point of sale unless you live in one of the few states participating in the Restaurant Meals Program (RMP).
It makes DoorDash ineligible for the USDA pilot program to enable SNAP beneficiaries to purchase food and groceries online with their SNAP funds. Even if DoorDash applied for approval and participated in the program, most of its hot, prepared restaurant food items won’t be eligible.
That’s why DoorDash doesn’t accept EBT or SNAP benefits at all, even for other non-prepared food items. Hopefully, the rules may change in the future as most states continue to extend SNAP via RMP to allow EBT cardholders to purchase restaurant foods online.
Though it’s not EBT approved, DoorDash does sell alcohol and coffee, which you’ll need to pay for with alternative payment methods.
Does GrubHub Take EBT?
The Grubhub food delivery app focuses on delivering restaurant-prepared food from local restaurants. Grubhub doesn’t take EBT or food stamps for fast food delivery.
But the problem is less on Grubhub and more on SNAP rules. SNAP doesn’t allow EBT cardholders to purchase hot, prepared restaurant meals with their benefits.
Although the discretion on whether or not to extend SNAP via the Restaurant Meals Program is left to individual states to decide, only a few states participate in the RMP.
Online and mobile food delivery services like Grubhub are left with no option but to play by the rules. Since they exclusively deliver for restaurants that sell hot, prepared, ready-to-eat food, their food items won’t be eligible for EBT or SNAP purchases in most states.
But, GrubHub takes cash for food delivery orders, unlike most of its competitors. GrubHub also accepts credit cards, active American Express gift cards, Apply Pay, Google Pay, and PayPal, but does not take debit cards, prepaid cards; nor will they cash a third-party check or personal check.
All food delivery drives appreciate cash tips as compensation for friendly and quick service. It’s one of the best under-the-table jobs that pay cash.
Does Instacart take EBT?
Instacart is a top online grocery delivery service. You can shop groceries from over 40,000 local grocers and chain stores, and you’ll have your order delivered to your doorstep.
Does Instacart accept food stamps? Yes, Instacart takes EBT cards from some retail stores. As of late 2020, SNAP recipients can use their EBT & SNAP benefits on Instacart to pay for groceries from stores like Aldi’s, Walmart, and Whole Foods. If the store carries it, Instacart will deliver girl scout cookies with SNAP funds.
To use your EBT card on Instacart, you’ll first need to add it to your Instacart account. SNAP benefits can only be used to pay for EBT eligible items on Instacart. You’ll need an alternative payment option like a credit card or debit card with a chip to cover additional costs like service fee, delivery charges, and any EBT-ineligible items purchased.
Does McDonald’s Accept EBT cards?
McDonald’s is one of the largest fast-food chains throughout the world. With over 13,500 McDonald’s locations in the United States, it’s a great place to grab a hamburger or any fast food of your choice if you are a SNAP recipient.
But before you go: does McDonald’s accept EBT cards?
Only select McDonald’s take EBT cards in the states with Restaurant Meals Program like California and Arizona. The participant must be elderly, living with a disability, or homeless in an RMP state to buy fast food at McDonald’s with your EBT card.
Most McDonald’s don’t accept EBT cards because the states don’t participate in the program. The purchase will be rejected because SNAP will label the purchase “hot, prepared food,” which is not allowed under EBT/SNAP rules.
To avoid such embarrassments, bring a credit or debit card with a PIN or call ahead of time to confirm whether you can use your EBT card at the specific McDonald’s location.
Can I Buy Pizza With EBT?
The famous pizza is for everyone, including the elderly, the disabled, the homeless. Can they buy pizza with EBT? You can use EBT to buy take-and-bake pizzas from Papa Murphy’s or any other pizza places that fall under the restaurant requirements.
You can also use your SNAP EBT card to buy frozen pizza and pizza ingredients from the grocery store for home preparation. Since the food is not hot and ready to eat at the point of sale, the purchase is included as a typical grocery purchase.
Can I Buy Ready Pizzas at a Restaurant With An EBT Card?
You can only use EBT at pizza places if you live in a state that participates in the Restaurant Meals Program (RMP), and you must either be elderly, disabled, or homeless to qualify. Domino’s, Hungry Howie’s, Papa John’s, Pizza Hut, Papa Murphy’s, Captain Tony’s Pizza and Pasta, Giant Pizza King, Little Caesars, Chico’s Pizza, Round Table Pizza, among others, are some of the top pizza places that accept EBT from select states that extend SNAP to include Restaurant Meals Program (RMP)
If your state doesn’t participate in the RMP, you can’t use your EBT to purchase hot or prepared pizza at a pizza place.
How to Save Money on Food Delivery Services?
Saving money on food delivery service apps will be limited when paying with EBT, but here are some suggestions:
- Compare delivery pricing – Check the fees and prices on various food delivery apps for the best price
- Subscriptions – Some delivery services offer subscriptions which can save money for regular customers
- Discount gift cards – Find the best online places that sell gift cards for a discount. Sites like Raise sell DoorDash, Instacart, and GrubHub gift cards at a discount.
- Coupon codes – Find the best online coupon sites for food delivery service promo codes
Does Chipotle Accept EBT Cards?
Chipotle does not take EBT cards. The food served is considered prepared or hot which means it does not qualify for the SNAP benefits.
What Fast Food Restaurants Don’t Take EBT Cards?
The following fast food places don’t take EBT or SNAP at any restaurant, even if the state participates in the Restaurant Meals Program:
- A&W Restaurants
- Chipotle Mexican Grill
- Einstein Bros. Bagels
- Five Guys Burger
- In-N-Out Burger
- Jimmy John’s
- Long John Silvers
- Panera Bread
- Panda Express
- Qdoba Mexican Grill
- Sonic Drive-In
- Shake Shack
- The Cheesecake Factory
- Tim Hortons
- White Castle
What Fast Food Restaurants Don’t Take EBT Cards?
Some fast food restaurants only accept EBT or food stamps with in-store purchases and not delivery. The acceptance will also be dependent on the state and whether the restaurant wants to participate in the Restaurant Meals Program, including:
- Burger King
- Burger Shoppe
- Carl’s Jr.
- Church’s Chicken
- Del Taco
- Dairy Queen
- Domino’s Pizza
- El Pollo Loco
- Firehouse Subs
- Golden Corral
- Hungry Howie’s
- Jack in the Box
- Jamba Juice
- Papa John’s Pizza
- Pizza Hut
- Taco Bell
EBT Fast Food Delivery Summary
The Restaurant Meals Program is a SNAP extension meant for the elderly, people with disabilities, or the homeless who don’t have the means to prepare meals at home. SNAP leaves it upon states to decide whether or not to participate in the RMP.
Only a few states, including Arizona, California, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, and Rhode Island, participate in the RMP. That means EBT fast food delivery is not accepted in most states. To qualify to use your EBT card in fast food places, you must live in a state that extends SNAP to include a Restaurant Meals Program (RMP), and you must qualify for the program.
If you are looking to order groceries and food online using food delivery apps, look into Instacart. Instacart accepts EBT from select stores like Aldi, Walmart, and Whole Foods in select states.
Unfortunately, delivery apps like Postmates, DoorDash, Uber Eats, and GrubHub don’t take EBT. You won’t be able to order restaurant meals from home through these apps.
You can use your EBT card at select McDonald’s locations and pizza places like Papa Murphy’s that fall under the restaurant threshold rules.
Suppose you want to use your SNAP benefits to buy prepared pizzas from Papa Murphy’s or a hamburger from McDonald’s. In that case, you must live in a state that participates in the Restaurant Meals Program (RMP) and qualify for the program to redeem your SNAP benefits for hot, prepared food in fast food places.
Hopefully, the rules will change, and most fast food places, food delivery apps, and gas stations will take EBT in the future.
A frugal living tip is to learn how to set up Google news alerts. Set alerts to let you know when there’s news on your state or favorite restaurant, fast food delivery service, or seafood places that takes EBT cash.