What Fast-Food Places Take EBT/Food Stamps/SNAP? Here’s the List

Short Answer: SNAP, also known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, is operated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to provide low-income individuals and families with food. Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards, which were once known as food stamps, are used to buy food at grocery stores and are now available at some select fast-food locations. You can only use an EBT card at approved restaurants in states that participate in the Restaurant Meals Program: Arizona, California, Hawaii, and Rhode Island. Below, we have the list of fast-food restaurants that accept EBT in these four states, plus more information about how EBT works and what it can buy.

In This Article

How Does the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Work?

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is a federal program assisting individuals and families that can’t afford to buy food. Heard of the Farm Bill, but don’t know exactly what it is? SNAP is Chapter 51 of the Farm Bill, and the largest part of the bill in terms of the amount of money spent. At the federal level, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) oversees SNAP and sets guidelines and rules as required by federal law.

Each state is required to administer the program through its appropriate state agency. At the state level, you’ll see SNAP operating with a variety of different names. In California, its CalFresh; in Wisconsin, its Food Share. But, they’re all part of the same program, all follow the same guidelines, and all distribute benefits through the same EBT cards (as explained in the next section). The USDA maintains a helpful list of state SNAP websites.

Federal law requires that SNAP benefits be interoperable – an EBT card issued by one state must work in another state’s EBT-approved restaurants too. So, if you’ve got an EBT card from Minnesota, but are visiting family in Arizona, you’ll be able to use your EBT card there as well.

What Is an EBT Card?

Electronic Benefit Transfer cards, also known as EBT cards, are the way that state agencies distribute the money that the SNAP program provides to individuals and families. EBT cards look and act much like a debit card, except there is no link to your bank account. EBT cards are connected to your SNAP benefits account, so when you swipe your EBT card at the grocery store to pay for your food, the funds from your SNAP benefits go into the store’s bank. EBT cards can only be used to buy food from approved retailers.

EBT cards are issued in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and DC, and have been since 2004. If you’re interested in the legalese behind the EBT card, take a look at 7 U.S. Code section 2016, the section of the Farm Bill covering the issuance and use of SNAP benefits via EBT cards.

The USDA maintains a list of all the retailers that accept EBT cards in each state on its website (but note that this resource doesn’t work on all web browsers). Scroll down past the map to download the list for your state.

What Fast Food Can You Buy with Your EBT Card?

In most states, you can only purchase food that is meant to be prepared at home. The most standard example of a fast-food restaurant where you can use your EBT card is Papa Murphy’s because you “take n’ bake” the pizzas at home.

But, as with most laws, there are exceptions. Federal law permits states to extend the SNAP to allow people who are elderly, disabled, or homeless to use their EBT cards to buy hot meals at approved restaurants. These approved restaurants must sell foods at “concessionary prices,” but the term isn’t defined by law. Usually, fast-food restaurants participate.

This exception takes into consideration that many people who qualify for EBT don’t have the means to take food home and cook it, so being able to buy only unprepared foods isn’t that helpful. Very few states have extended their programs to allow people to buy food at restaurants with EBT cards. In those that have, the extension is often called a “Restaurant Meal Program,” or RMP.

How Do Restaurant Meals Programs Work?

A few states have extended SNAP to allow certain recipients to buy meals in participating restaurants. In areas with active Restaurant Meals Programs (RMPs), several fast-food restaurants accept EBT. RMPs are meant to accommodate EBT recipients who don’t have the means to go home and cook their food. Restaurant meals may be available only for the homeless, disabled, and elderly.

Note that the USDA’s list of retailers that accept EBT cards usually doesn’t include the restaurants that accept EBT cards as part of an RMP. You’ll have to use the state’s website to search for restaurants. Many states don’t post participating restaurants, and you may need to contact your local state benefits office.

Restaurant Meal Programs are well developed in California and Arizona. Hawaii and Rhode Island all have references to the program but provide limited information. Michigan used to have a Restaurant Meals Program but canceled it a few years ago. Here are the basics of each state’s program:

Arizona

California

Hawaii

Michigan (Discontinued)

Note: Michigan’s Restaurant Meals Program was discontinued in 2013. Here are some now-historic details about their program and how it worked.

Rhode Island

Fast-Food Restaurants That Accept EBT

It’s worth noting that franchised locations can set their own policies on what payment types they’ll accept. That means that if the corporate office sets a policy to accept or not accept EBT in the corporate-owned stores, the franchise won’t necessarily follow that policy.

If you visit one of these restaurants in a state with an RMP and receive RMP benefits to your EBT card, you’ll probably be able to buy hot food off the menu. If you are visiting a restaurant in a state without an RMP, or the location happens to not participates in the state’s RMP program, you either won’t be able to use your EBT card at all or will be limited to cold items that count as for home preparation only. We’ve noted which items might count as cold, home prep items for each state, for those looking for restaurant food in non-RMP states.

Burger King

  • Possible cold food for home prep: Salads, milkshakes, applesauce, milk, desserts, and soft drinks
  • States with locations accepting EBT: California
  • Find a Burger King

Carl’s Jr.

  • Possible cold food for home prep: None
  • States with locations accepting EBT: Arizona, California
  • Find a Carl’s Jr.

Church’s Chicken

  • Possible cold food for home prep: Coleslaw, desserts, and soft drinks
  • Additional information: Many people report purchasing their chicken using EBT cards. Check with each franchise before purchasing.
  • States with locations accepting EBT: California
  • Find a Church’s Chicken

Cici’s Pizza

Suggested Article: These Are the Pizza Places That Take EBT

Dairy Queen

  • Possible cold food for home prep: Ice cream, cakes, and drinks
  • States with locations accepting EBT: Arizona
  • Find a Dairy Queen

Del Taco

  • Possible cold food for home prep: Chips, desserts, salads, drinks
  • States with locations accepting EBT: California
  • Find a Del Taco

Denny’s

  • Possible cold food for home prep: None
  • States with locations accepting EBT: Arizona, California
  • Find a Denny’s

Suggested Article: Does Denny’s Accept EBT? Restaurant Payment Policy Explained

Domino’s

  • Possible cold food for home prep: Salads, subs, desserts, and soft drinks
  • Additional information: Take advantage of daily deals to get better prices.
  • States with locations accepting EBT: Arizona, California
  • Find a Domino’s

El Pollo Loco

Jack in the Box

  • Possible cold food for home prep: None
  • States with locations accepting EBT: Arizona, California
  • Find a Jack in the Box

Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC)

  • Possible cold food for home prep: Coleslaw, desserts, and soft drinks
  • Additional information: Some KFC restaurants reportedly allow for chicken and sandwiches to be purchased using EBT cards, but check with your local franchise.
  • States with locations accepting EBT: Arizona, California
  • Find a KFC

McDonald’s

  • Possible cold food for home prep: None
  • States with locations accepting EBT: California
  • Find a McDonald’s

Papa John’s Pizza

Papa Murphy’s

  • Possible cold food for home prep: Take and bake pizzas, salads, sides, and drinks
  • Additional information: Since all Papa Murphy’s pizza is “take and bake,” it doesn’t fall under the restriction of “hot foods.” Sign up for extra offers on Papa Murphy’s website.
  • States with locations accepting EBT: 36 states; most Papa Murphy’s locations accept EBT.
  • Find a Papa Murphy’s

Pizza Hut

  • Possible cold food for home prep: None
  • States with locations accepting EBT: California
  • Find a Pizza Hut

For more information specific to Pizza Hut, check out our article on EBT at Pizza Hut.

Popeye’s

  • Possible cold food for home prep: None
  • States with locations accepting EBT: California
  • Find a Popeye’s

Quiznos

  • Possible cold food for home prep: None
  • States with locations accepting EBT: California
  • Find a Quiznos

Rally’s Hamburgers

  • Possible cold food for home prep: Desserts, milkshakes, and soft drinks
  • States with locations accepting EBT: Arizona, California
  • Find a Rally’s Hamburgers

Subway

  • Possible cold food for home prep: Cold subs, chips, and soft drinks may count as cold food
  • Additional information: EBT cards cannot be used on Subway’s app for ordering ahead, see more about Subway and EBT cards.
  • States with locations accepting EBT: Arizona, California, Rhode Island
  • Find a Subway

For more information specific to Subway, check out our article on EBT at Subway.

Taco Bell

  • Possible cold food for home prep: Chips, desserts, specialty cold drinks, and soft drinks
  • States with locations accepting EBT: Arizona, California
  • Find a Taco Bell

For more information specific to Taco Bell, check out our article on EBT at Taco Bell.

Wendy’s

  • Possible cold food for home prep: Salads, desserts, specialty drinks, and soft drinks
  • States with locations accepting EBT: California
  • Find a Wendy’s

Wing Stop

  • Possible cold food for home prep: None
  • States with locations accepting EBT: California
  • Find a Wing Stop

Fast-Food Restaurants That Don’t Accept EBT

And, here are the fast-food restaurants that, as far as we could find, don’t accept EBT at any locations:

In Summary

EBT at fast-food places is only available in states with Restaurant Meal Programs, and only for people who are EBT recipients and disabled, elderly, or homeless. If you aren’t in an RMP or don’t qualify for the program, you can’t use EBT at local fast-food restaurants. You may be able to find a local fast-food restaurant that is approved to accept EBT for food items intended for home preparation — but this is rare. Most traditional fast-food restaurants don’t sell food that qualifies for EBT.

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14 comments

  • Deyanira says:

    Hi! I am a frequent client at subway and they DO ACCEPT EBT. Everything on the menu. Hot or cold. This article is not fake. Please read the imperative sections of this article which very clearly states it is at the franchise discretion if they will accept the form of payment.

    • Kathleen Wilson says:
      First Quarter Finance logostaff

      Hi Patrick,
      It’s ultimately up to individual Subway stores if they want to accept EBT or not — looks like the store you went to is definitely one that has decided not to accept EBT.

  • It’s absolutely correct that whether or not you’ll be able to use EBT at a fast food place will depend on how your EBT card is FLAGGED. Odds are, if you have a home and a KITCHEN, you’ll be blocked from fast food and takeout.

    For anyone in LA county (specifically the south bay) for those who DO have this status, I’ve successfully ordered HOT meals at KFC, Little Caesar’s, and Jack-in-the-Box. Don’t bother with Carls Jr or McDonald’s here. NONE take EBT.

    • Laura Bachmann says:
      First Quarter Finance logostaff

      Hi Gunther,

      Thanks for sharing. We appreciate hearing about your local experience, and it’s helpful for future readers — especially on topics like EBT, where specifics inevitably have significant local variation.

  • Some restaurant chains have limited locations that except EBT. For instance here in San Diego County, Ca..you can eat at Carl’s Jr in one part of the city and the other location does NOT accept it. You need to go to Cal fresh as website to see the list ,and my welfare caseworker gave me a copy for the WHOLE county!!

  • Mad Customer says:

    This is fake. I just went to McDonald’s and asked if they accepted EBT and they said no.

    • Laura Bachmann says:
      First Quarter Finance logostaff

      Hi Mad,

      You’re right in that many McDonald’s won’t take EBT. Franchise locations don’t have to accept EBT, and most won’t. Also, EBT can only be used for a limited selection of items, so even at a McDonald’s that does take EBT, if you asked for a non-eligible item, you could be denied.

      • Laura Bachmann says:
        First Quarter Finance logostaff

        Hi Tk,

        Good luck a Burger King, and thanks for sharing your experience at McDonald’s. McDonald’s is famous for being a highly franchised chain — over 80% of locations are franchised. And, the majority of these franchised locations may not take EBT, as they’re free to set payment policies and not take EBT. Your comments on McDonald’s are appreciated as they’ll help future readers figure out their chances before taking a trip to McDonald’s and trying to pay with EBT.

        • Scoley80 says:

          The McDonald’s in Greeneville and Johnson city TN takes EBT for cold food items including salads

    • This really happened says:

      I am at McDonald’s and I just saw a person pay for their food with an EBT card – 1 sausage bisciut.

      • Kathleen Wilson says:
        First Quarter Finance logostaff

        Thanks for sharing. We appreciate hearing about your local experience, and it’s helpful for future readers — especially on topics like EBT, where specifics inevitably have significant local variation.

  • First of all it should be noted that many states that allow ebt food to be used at fast food places limits those purchases to HOMELESS ONLY. Other states allow it for disabled, elderly, and homeless. In no cases can peopl use them if they are able bodied people who have homes where they can cook their own foods.