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Area Subway restaurants taking EBT cards

28 November 2011 One Comment

BY MARCUS RAUHUT; Staff writer

Local Subway restaurants now accept Electronic Benefits Transfer payments.

The Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare uses EBT cards to provide food and cash assistance to recipients.

Jason Beckenbaugh, president of J.E.B. Enterprises Inc., which operates the Shippensburg, Chambersburg and Mercersburg Subways, said by law restaurants cannot accept the food benefits — known commonly as “food stamps.”

However, he said about half of the 150 Subway stores in south-central Pennsylvania are accepting the cash benefit.

The stores in Shippensburg, Chambersburg and Mercersburg began accepting EBT payments about four weeks ago, and were believed to be the first in the region to do so.

“From what I’m told, laws were passed recently allowing restaurants in Pennsylvania to accept certain forms of EBT,” Beckenbaugh said. “Some states have been allowing restaurants to accept EBT payments for years…and the restaurant industry is starting to realize this may be one way to help sluggish sales in a poor economy.”

There are other states that allow the food benefits to be used at restaurants, but only in certain cases.

California, Arizona, and Michigan are currently operating state-administered restaurant programs, which allow a small sub group of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program recipients who may be unable to prepare meals at home — the elderly, disabled, and homeless — to use SNAP benefits at restaurants.

A major restaurant chain has been trying to change the requirements.

Yum! Brands, whose restaurants include Taco Bell, KFC, Pizza Hut and Long John Silver’s, has been lobbying to allow people to use food stamps at its restaurants.

The USDA, which administers the SNAP program, opposes any expansion of the restaurant meals program.

“While restaurants have an important place in our lives, it is not clear that they are needed in order to provide eligible homeless, elderly and disabled SNAP participants access to affordable, nutritious food,” USDA spokesman Aaron Lavallee said in an e-mail to Public Opinion. “Concerns surrounding the use of SNAP benefits in restaurants have the potential to undermine public confidence in SNAP at a time when we need it the most.”

Marcus Rauhut can be reached at mrauhut@publicopinionnews.com and 262-4752, or follow him on Twitter @MarcusRauhutPO.


One Comment »

  • JB said:

    This is so wrong on many levels, its not subways fault, but a bigger issue with DPW allowing this to happen. Really??? taxpayers are paying for someone to go to subway to Eat! I know I can’t go to subway or in the future Taco bell to eat for free. And honestly the nutritional value at fast food restaurants is suspect at best. This is a waste of money that could be used to fund education, roadwork or other useful programs.