Restaurant Meals - SNAP Customers FAQ

Customers - SNAP Restaurant Meals Program

  1. What is the Restaurant Meals Program?
    • The Restaurant Meals Program (RMP) allows eligible SNAP customers to purchase prepared meals at authorized restaurants. This program is available to SNAP customers who are homeless, elderly and/or disabled.
      • Homeless To be considered an eligible homeless customer, the customer must lack a fixed and regular nighttime residence or be living in a shelter, halfway house, or a place not designed for sleeping. This includes a homeless individual or household who is temporarily staying in the home of another person (90 days or less).
      • Elderly To be eligible, the household must have only members who are age 60 or older and his or her spouse
      • Disabled To be eligible, the household must have only members who are designated as disabled by a government entity and his or her spouse.
  2. Do the members have to receive Social Security Income (SSI) to be considered to have a disability?
    • No. Eligible customers are not restricted to those receiving SSI only. A customer could be receiving other disability income: RSDI, VA (100% disabled), Railroad Retirement Disability Benefits, or annuity payments from the Railroad while eligible for Medicare. A customer can also be determined permanently and totally disabled through the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) Client Assessment Unit.
  3. Do eligible customers need to complete a separate application to utilize the program?
    • No. Eligible SNAP customers do not need to complete a separate application to utilize the program. Their Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) Link Card will automatically be eligible to be utilized at authorized restaurants.
  4. What do I do if I believe I am eligible, but not able to use my Link Card at participating restaurants?
    • You may call the IDHS Customer Help Line at 1-800-843-6154 to inquire about your eligibility. A SNAP customer's eligibility to participate in the Restaurant Meals Program will be reviewed at every redetermination.
  5. Will eligible customers be notified of their eligibility?
    • Yes. Eligible customers will receive a notice from IDHS indicating if the customer is eligible to participate.
  6. Which restaurants are currently participating in the Restaurant Meals Program?
  7. Will I receive more benefits when I participate in the Restaurant Meals Program?
    • No. Participating in the Restaurant Meals Program will not change your benefit amount. You will receive the allotment amount you were approved to receive each month. The Restaurant Meals Program allows eligible customers the option of using their Illinois Link Card benefits at participating restaurants. However, each selected restaurant will offer special deals only available to customers eligible for RMP.
  8. How do I use my Illinois Link Card to purchase meals?
    • If eligible, you will be given access through your current Link Card. You can use your Link Card just as you would at the grocery store, swipe & enter the PIN (personal identification number) to pay.
  9. After purchasing a meal, do I get a sales receipt showing my SNAP benefit balance?
    • Yes. Your sales receipt will show the cost of your meal and your Link Card benefit balance.
  10. Will I be charged tax or tip if I purchase a meal?
    • No. Participating restaurants are not allowed to charge tax or tip under the Restaurant Meals Program.
  11. Can I use my Illinois Link Card to purchase alcohol at a restaurant?
    • No. You cannot use your SNAP benefits to purchase alcoholic beverages, cigarettes, or any non-food items.
  12. If my SNAP benefit balance is not enough to purchase a meal, can I use my Link Card Cash Assistance benefit to cover the difference for payment?
    • Only if the restaurant's Point of Service equipment is enabled to accept Link Card Cash Assistance benefits as a form of payment. The restaurant can tell you if they are able to accept Link Card Cash Assistance as payment.
  13. Is the Restaurant Meals Program statewide?
    • No. Currently, the RMP is a pilot program with participating restaurants in Franklin County and parts of Cook County. However, eligible customers statewide may use their Link Card at approved restaurants. For example, a customer does not live in an area where a pilot restaurant is located, but if the customer happens to be traveling to an area where a participating restaurant is located, they may use their Link Card to purchase hot and ready food at that restaurant.
  14. Can I use my SNAP benefits to order take-out meals from a participating restaurant?
    • Yes. Take-out can be ordered from a participating restaurant. The participating restaurant only needs to have seating available.
  15. Can eligible SNAP customers who are home-bound send someone to pick up their food? 
    • An eligible customer can authorize someone to do their shopping for them. As a reminder, only utilize a trusted individual and keep the PIN number safe as benefits that are used with the customer's Link Card and PIN are not replaced.
  16. Can I get delivery from a participating restaurant?
    • No. You must use your card at the restaurant and enter your PIN.
  17. What should I do if my Link Card transaction is denied by a participating restaurant? 
    • You can confirm your eligibility to participate in the Restaurant Meals Program and your Link Card balance by calling 1-800-678-LINK (5465). You can also check your Link Card account balance and transactions at the Illinois EBT Link Card Login page or you can contact your local Family Community Resource Center (FCRC).
  18. Need more information?
    • For more information, contact your local FCRC or the IDHS Helpline at 1-800-846-6154 or 1-866-324-5553 (TTY).