Government relief beneficiaries can buy food from some restaurants

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Valley News - Health

Seniors, the unemployed and other Riverside County residents who rely on government aid to buy groceries have the option to purchase food from some restaurants when they find store shelves barren, officials said recently.

The county Department of Public Social Services reminded electronic benefits transfer card users, Thursday, March 19, that there are more than 150 eateries countywide that will accept the EBTs in lieu of cash to buy meals.

Virtually all grocery stores in the county have been hit with shortages on a range of products because of panic buying or hoarding directly associated with the series of coronavirus-related local, state and national emergencies declared.

“We’re committed to assisting and protecting our vulnerable communities in this unprecedented time,” Allison Gonzalez, administrator with DPSS, said. “We want to make sure people don’t go hungry. This program helps qualified customers get a hot, affordable meal.”

EBT cards replaced food stamps in the previous decade. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service provides funding for the program, which states and counties administer.

Recipients include low-income seniors and families, the disabled and homeless.

In California, EBT users are eligible for CalFresh goods, one component of which is the Restaurant Meals Program. A complete list of participating restaurants countywide is available at

“Many of the participating establishments offer drive-thru and takeout options,” Gonzalez said. “These options can help customers practice social distancing and other precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

She said restaurants can apply to take part in the federally subsidized program anytime via the DPSS website:

Residents who wish to apply for CalFresh benefits can fill out and submit applications at, or call (877) 410-8827 for more information.