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

Short Answer: You can only use an EBT card at approved restaurants in states that participate in the Restaurant Meals Program: Arizona, California, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, and Rhode Island. Below, we have the list of fast food restaurants that accept EBT in these states, plus more information about how the Restaurant Meals Program works.

What Fast Food Places Accept EBT?

In most states, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) only allows you to use your EBT card to purchase food for preparation at home (as previously reported). However, federal law permits states to extend SNAP, allowing the elderly, disabled, or homeless to buy hot meals at approved restaurants. Most states call this the Restaurant Meals Program (RMP), and fast food restaurants often participate.

How Do Restaurant Meals Programs Work?

Restaurant Meals Programs consider that many people who qualify for EBT don’t have the means to take food home and/or cook it, so being able to buy only unprepared foods doesn’t always provide the nutrition they need. Only a few states have extended their programs to allow people to purchase food at restaurants with EBT cards.

The USDA’s list of retailers that accept EBT cards usually doesn’t show the restaurants that accept EBT cards as part of an RMP; more information is available from your state benefits agency. Some states don’t post participating restaurants online, so you may need to contact your local benefits office for a list.

Restaurant Meal Programs are well-developed in California[1] and Arizona.[2] Illinois,[3] Maryland,[4] Michigan,[5] and Rhode Island[6] have also introduced RMPs.

If you don’t live in and receive benefits from the state offering the Restaurant Meals Program, you can’t use your EBT card at restaurants (as previously reported). While federal requirements allow you to use your EBT card at grocery stores in different states, RMP programs are state-managed due to their additional eligibility requirements.[7] For example, California’s Restaurant Meals Program is only available to recipients of CalFresh who live in RMP-participating counties.[1]

Here are the basics of each state’s program:

Arizona

California

  • Program name: CalFresh Restaurant Meals Program[1]
  • Eligibility: Must be an EBT recipient and also be either over age 60, disabled, or homeless; you may also need to register with the county to access the program.[1]
  • Where available: Alameda, Fresno, Los Angeles, Madera, Mariposa, Monterey, Orange, Riverside, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, San Luis Obispo, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Siskiyou, Tehama, and Ventura counties[1]
  • How to apply: For EBT, online via California’s CalFresh benefits website; for the Restaurant Meals Program, visit the county-specific program website.
  • Search for participating restaurants by zip code or find out more

Illinois

  • Program name: SNAP Restaurant Meals Program[3]
  • Eligibility: Those who receive EBT and are elderly, disabled, or homeless, as well as their spouses[3]
  • Where available: Entire state[3]
  • How to apply: Fill out the Application for Benefits Eligibility.
  • Find out more; note that Illinois doesn’t provide a public list of participating restaurants online.[8]

Maryland

Michigan

  • Program name: Restaurant Meal Program[5]
  • Eligibility: Must receive food assistance program benefits and be age 60 or older, disabled, or homeless[5]
  • Where available: Entire state[5]
  • How to apply: Online at the MI Bridges website
  • Find out more; note that Michigan doesn’t yet provide a public listing of participating restaurants online.[5]

Rhode Island

Fast Food Restaurants That Accept EBT

The following fast food restaurants accept EBT at select locations. We’ve included information about which states have restaurants accepting EBT. However, because several states with RMPs don’t share the participating restaurants publicly, you may want to contact the individual store before visiting, check with your benefits agency, or bring a backup payment method.

Blimpie

Burger King

Carl’s Jr.

Church’s Chicken

Cicis Pizza

See our related research for more pizza places that take EBT.

Dairy Queen

Del Taco

Denny’s

Note: See our research on the Denny’s EBT policy.

Domino’s

eegee’s

El Pollo Loco

Fatburger

Firehouse Subs

Hungry Howie’s

Jack In The Box

KFC

Krispy Krunchy Chicken

Little Caesars Pizza

McDonald’s

Papa John’s

Papa Murphy’s

  • States with locations accepting EBT: 36 states; since it offers “take and bake” pizzas that you prepare at home, most Papa Murphy’s locations accept EBT[12]
  • Find a Papa Murphy’s

Pizza Hut

Note: See our dedicated research on using EBT at Pizza Hut.

Popeyes

Quiznos

Rally’s

Subway

Note: You can’t use an EBT card to order ahead on Subway’s app. See more about using EBT at Subway.

Taco Bell

Note: See our dedicated research on using EBT at Taco Bell.

Wendy’s

Wingstop

Fast Food Restaurants That Don’t Accept EBT

In the course of our research, we found that the following fast food places don’t accept EBT at any locations:

  • Arby’s
  • Biscuitville
  • Chick-fil-A
  • Chipotle Mexican Grill (See more about Chipotle’s EBT policy)
  • Cinnabon
  • Culver’s
  • Dunkin’
  • Einstein Bros. Bagels
  • Five Guys Burgers & Fries (See other payment options at Five Guys)
  • Hardee’s
  • In-N-Out Burger
  • Jimmy John’s
  • Panda Express
  • Panera Bread
  • Popeyes
  • Qdoba Mexican Grill (See other payment options at Qdoba)
  • Shake Shack
  • Sonic Drive-In
  • Starbucks
  • Whataburger
  • White Castle
  • Zaxby’s
  1. https://www.cdss.ca.gov/inforesources/calfresh/restaurant-meals-program[][][][][]
  2. https://des.az.gov/services/basic-needs/food-assistance/restaurant-meals-program[][][][]
  3. https://www.ilga.gov/legislation/101/HB/10100HB3343.htm[][][][]
  4. https://dhs.maryland.gov/documents/Food%20Supplement%20Program/Maryland%20Restaurants%20Meals%20Program%20Guidelines.docx.pdf[][][]
  5. https://www.michigan.gov/mdhhs/0,5885,7-339-71547_5527_104514—,00.html[][][][][]
  6. http://www.dhs.ri.gov/Programs/SNAPFoodAccessProject.php[][][][]
  7. https://ask.usda.gov/s/article/Can-I-buy-food-at-restaurants-with-Supplemental-Nutrition-Assistance-Program-benefits-For-SNAP-Clien[]
  8. https://www.dhs.state.il.us/page.aspx?item=30357[]
  9. https://dhs.maryland.gov/food-supplement-program/[][]
  10. https://dbmefaapolicy.azdes.gov/FAA1/baggage/MealsProgramRestaurants.pdf?time=1615933837258[][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][]
  11. https://www.ebt.ca.gov/locator/index.html#/locator.page[][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][]
  12. https://www.papamurphys.com/faqs[]
  13. http://www.dhs.ri.gov/Documents/RestaurantMealsProgramFlyerJan2021.pdf[]

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.

    • I’m at mcdonalds right now and they said no and never heard of the card. On to burger king next

      • 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.