The fight to use food stamps for restaurant food [via civileats]
Three states are moving to make more SNAP recipients eligible for hot mealsthreatened IDHS with fines for over issuing federal food assistance to a significant number of individuals in 2018. USDA’s Food and Nutrition Services has asked the IDHS to submit research that demonstrates the need for a prepared meals program in Illinois as well as show a willingness among food establishments to offer meals to SNAP beneficiaries at a reduced rate, said Meghan Powers, an IDHS spokesperson. “We have several folks working on our implementation plan and we would really like to receive approval,” Powers said. In May 2019, Maryland lawmakers approved a three-year pilot for a statewide restaurant meals program with an expected December 2019 start date, but it hasn’t received USDA approval either. Taking care to explain that the restaurant meals program isn’t new and that implementation won’t expand SNAP eligibility, Maryland advocates and policy makers say its program will be designed to improve access to food among people who face barriers to shopping and cooking. “The goal was to try to make sure that those people who aren’t able to really use their benefits right now are able to actually access food,” said Scott Tiffen, chief of staff for Maryland State Senator Clarence Lam. “Some older people may have difficulty bringing groceries to and from the store or preparing them,” Tiffen said. “Similarly, some people who are homeless may not have a place to store food … or to prepare it.” Beyond fast food? Although the restaurant meals program hasn’t been the subject of much scholarly research, the program has received criticism about the kinds of food establishments that have signed on to participate. In and a few other states, authorized restaurants include fast food chains such as Subway, Burger King, Domino’s Pizza, and Jack-in-the-Box. In a 2013 report , San Francisco County outlined strategies to expand the range of vendors and recruit food establishments that could offer healthy and culturally diverse meals. At the time, 49 of the county’s 64 vendors were fast food chains and the remaining 15 were independent local restaurants. In 2017, California began Read more: Eater
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