May 20, 2020

Warner & Kaine Cosponsor Bill To Expand Access To Restaurant Meals Program Amid COVID-19

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine cosponsored legislation to increase the ability for Americans struggling with food insecurity to receive restaurant meals during the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, the COVID-19 Anti-Hunger Restaurant Relief for You Act of 2020—or the SNAP CARRY Act—expands eligibility for the SNAP Restaurant Meals Program (RMP) and waives program requirements to make it easier for states and restaurants to participate in the program during emergencies like the COVID-19 pandemic. The RMP prevents hunger in some of the most vulnerable communities by allowing people who may not have the ability or a place to prepare their own food to purchase discounted prepared meals at participating restaurants with their SNAP benefits.

“We are proud to support this effort to expand the use of SNAP benefits to participating restaurants,” said the Senators. “This legislation is a win-win for increasing food security and supporting local restaurants – two critical issues amid this pandemic.”

During emergencies like COVID-19 when there are often unforeseen challenges around food access, the RMP could serve to ensure those struggling with hunger can easily and safely access food. In addition, as the restaurant industry struggles with closures due to COVID-19, the RMP would help prevent job loss among restaurant employees. However, statutory limits to the program present barriers to its use.

The SNAP CARRY Act:

  1. Allows all SNAP-eligible individuals to utilize the RMP during a nationally declared disaster or public health emergency
  2. Eases regulatory barriers on states participating in the program
  3. Gives the Secretary of Agriculture broad authority to authorize additional food retailers to participate in SNAP and the SNAP RMP
  4. Establishes an option and process for participating restaurants in the RMP to end their participation after COVID-19

The legislation is sponsored by Senator Chris Murphy. Click here for a one-pager.

 

###