By Javier Manjarres
As we reported on a few weeks back, convenient store chains throughout Florida are now accepting ‘Food Stamps, aka EBT/SNAP, as a form of payment from their customers. Now it appears that same ‘Food Stamp’ fever is spreading to other private businesses including restaurants.
Note– Per the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) energy drinks are accepted for purchase with SNAP cards.
Supermarkets understandably accept the EBT because it’s the most common place where folks obtain their food. But now it seems as if free-standing restaurants are catching on and are actually advertising EBT cards to their patrons as an accepted form of payment.
The Pleasures by the Sea restaurant in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, is now accepting EBT cards from their patrons, as they are clearly promoting the program with their ‘man on the street’ advertising campaign as pictured here. The restaurant is nestled in a poor neighborhood that consists of primarily blacks and other minorities.According to the United States Department on Agriculture (USDA), the Pleasures by the Sea restaurant may be eligible to receive SNAP benefits.
In some areas, restaurants can be authorized to accept SNAP benefits from qualified homeless, elderly, or disabled people in exchange for low-cost meals.-USDA
I think it’s safe to assume that what the USDA means when it states “in some areas” restaurants can accept SNAP (Food Stamps) is code for minority heavy and poor neighborhoods.
Here are the USDA guidelines, as to items are, and are not accepted by the Food Stamp program-
Households CANNOT use SNAP benefits to buy:
|Beer, wine, liquor, cigarettes or tobacco;|
|Any nonfood items, such as:|
|soaps, paper products; and|
|Vitamins and medicines.|
|Food that will be eaten in the store.|
“Junk Food” & Luxury Items
The Food and Nutrition Act of 2008 (the Act) defines eligible food as any food or food product for home consumption and also includes seeds and plants which produce food for consumption by SNAP households. The Act precludes the following items from being purchased with SNAP benefits: alcoholic beverages, tobacco products, hot food and any food sold for on-premises consumption. Nonfood items such as pet foods, soaps, paper products, medicines and vitamins, household supplies, grooming items, and cosmetics, also are ineligible for purchase with SNAP benefits.
|Soft drinks, candy, cookies, snack crackers, and ice cream are food items and are therefore eligible items|
|Seafood, steak, and bakery cakes are also food items and are therefore eligible items|
|Since the current definition of food is a specific part of the Act, any change to this definition would require action by a member of Congress. Several times in the history of SNAP, Congress had considered placing limits on the types of food that could be purchased with program benefits. However, they concluded that designating foods as luxury or non-nutritious would be administratively costly and burdensome. Further detailed information about the challenges of restricting the use of SNAP benefits can be found here:Report — Implications of Restricting the use of
Food Stamp Benefits
When considering the eligibility of energy drinks, and other branded products, the primary determinant is the type of product label chosen by the manufacturer to conform to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines:
|Energy drinks that have a nutrition facts label are eligible foods|
|Energy drinks that have a supplement facts label are classified by the FDA as supplements, and are therefore not eligible|
Live animals may not be purchased with SNAP benefits.
Pumpkins, Holiday Gift Baskets, and Special Occasion Cakes
Pumpkins are edible and eligible for purchase with SNAP benefits. However, inedible gourds and pumpkins that are used solely for ornamental purposes are not eligible items.
Gift baskets that contain both food and non-food items, are not eligible for purchase with SNAP benefits if the value of the non-food items exceeds 50 percent of the purchase price.
Items such as birthday and other special occasion cakes are eligible for purchase with SNAP benefits as long as the value of non-edible decorations does not exceed 50 percent of the purchase price of the cake.
As Obama’s economy continues to sputter, will we see even more restaurants accepting the SNAP- or perhaps we will see the USDA allow even more items that to become eligible for purchase through SNAP- potentially all food items and other non-food items as well?
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