Restaurant Meals Program

California’s Restaurant Meals Program allows eligible EBT cardholders receiving Calfresh benefits (formerly known as Food Stamps and federally known asSupplemental Nutrition Assistance Program [SNAP] benefits), to purchase hot prepared foods at participating restaurants using their Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards.

Client Eligibility
Only homeless, elderly, and disabled food benefit recipients are eligible to participate in the Restaurant Meals Program. Client eligibility is determined by each county and is automatically verified through the point-of-sale (POS) equipment at the time of the transaction. If a client is ineligible, an error message will appear on the POS device and the transaction will not be approved. Denial codes displayed on POS systems vary by processor.

Each county determines if it wants to participate in the Restaurant Meals Program. Counties interested in participating must submit a proposal for approval to the California Department of Social Services (CDSS). For more information, contact the CDSS at (916) 654-1396. Proposal requirements are detailed in the CDSS All County Information Notice No. 1-31-04, which can be found at:

For more information or questions on the Restaurant Meals Program, call (916) 654-1396 or visit

To participate, restaurants must be located within a county participating in the Restaurant Meals Program. To determine if a particular county is participating, check with the county's Department of Social Services or Department of Health and Human Services. See for county contact information or call (916) 654-2236. A restaurant interested in accepting CalFresh benefits must sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the county. This MOU must be submitted with the federal application for authorization; call the SNAP Retailer Service Center at (877) 823-4369 to obtain a paper Meal Service Application, Form FNS-252-2. Once enrolled in the program, a restaurant must have or obtain POS equipment that can process EBT transactions. The POS equipment must include a personal identification number (PIN) pad.

Restaurants are prohibited from charging sales tax or meal tax on prepared foods purchased with EBT food benefits, such as Calfresh or SNAP benefits. However, prepared foods purchased with EBT cash benefits are taxable.

For more information about restaurant participation in the Restaurant Meals Program, contact the CDSS at (916) 654-1396.
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