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Illinois bill would provide residents with SNAP benefits at fast-food restaurants

Posted at 4:49 PM, Mar 20, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-20 17:51:37-04

A new bill is winding its way through the Illinois legislature that potentially could allow residents there to use food stamps to buy fast food.

WICS TV in Springfield, Ill., reports that as of now, food stamps can be used in Illinois only to buy groceries at a store or a farmer’s market. But if the bill is signed into law, it could provide quick burgers, fried chicken and pizza at fast-food restaurants.

Illinois House Bill 3343 would establish a Restaurant Meals Program to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. If passed, recipients can use their monthly allotment to buy meals from restaurants.

Under the bill’s provisions, only certain recipients would qualify. Among those are the disabled, elderly, homeless and their spouses.

“Somebody who’s homeless, for example, they don’t have a place to prepare that food or somebody who’s disabled, they’re not able to come home and cook a meal themselves,” State Representative Tom Demmer, R-Dixon, told WICS.

Demmer supports the bill, but he also has some concerns about the higher cost of prepared food rather than making your own from groceries.

“The prices of foods at restaurants are higher than what it might be at the grocery store and so, there’s a little bit of a trade-off there,” Demmer said. “So we want to make sure people aren’t running out of benefits at the end of the month,” Demmer said.

If the bill becomes law in Illinois, restaurants would have to be certified to participate in the program.

“They’re already participating on the grocery side of it and hopefully it’s a relatively simple process to get certified on the restaurant side,” Demmer said.

It’s not a pilot program. California and Arizona already have similar programs set up for the usage of SNAP benefits at Jack-in-the-Box and Subway restaurants.

Is this a progressive way to make sure that those who can’t provide for themselves still have enough to eat?

Or is it a government boondoggle?

What are your thoughts? Should Texas take steps for a similar program?