Jul 12, 2023 - Business

These Boston-area restaurants may soon accept SNAP

Illustration of a key in a keyhole on a takeout bag.

Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

Come September, Massachusetts will let people receiving food assistance use their benefits at restaurants for the first time.

What’s happening: Fourteen Boston-area restaurants were selected by the state to participate in a pilot program with the federal government, called the Restaurant Meals Program. There were 27 total restaurants selected statewide.

  • They range from La Parada Dominican Kitchen in Roxbury to Caribbean Classic on Wheels, a food truck based in Mattapan.
  • The restaurants must get the final OK from the federal government before they start taking payment.

Why it matters: The program targets some of the most vulnerable residents in Massachusetts — those who not only struggle to put food on the table, but who can’t buy raw food and prepare their own meals at home.

By the numbers: Roughly 33% of the state’s population experienced food insecurity in 2022, per a recent report from the Greater Boston Food Bank.

  • Food insecurity is expected to increase with the end of enhanced and state-funded benefits under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known as SNAP, this summer.

Zoom in: Eligible restaurant customers are SNAP recipients who are homeless, have disabilities or are ages 60 and up. Spouses of eligible recipients can also participate.

Zoom out: Massachusetts is one of eight states participating in the program, according to the SNAP website.

Details: Unlike other states, Massachusetts selected mostly locally-owned restaurants with nutritious options in lieu of fast food or fast-casual spots, notes Sara Bleich, a professor of public health policy at the Harvard Chan School of Public Health.

  • The majority of the 27 restaurants in Massachusetts are owned by women or people of color, per the state.
  • The average meal price is $11.

What they’re saying: "I was interested in participating because I know that food hunger exists in various parts of Boston. It’s not just around our neighborhood in particular," Chef Cheryl Straughter, owner of Soleil in Nubian Square, told Axios.

What's next: Restaurant owners must ensure their point-of-sale equipment can take EBT cards, fill out paperwork and review their menus to make sure SNAP customers have a variety of affordable options ahead of the launch.

Here are the Boston-area restaurants Massachusetts chose:

  • Las Delicias Colombianas (Revere)
  • La Parada Dominican Kitchen (Roxbury)
  • Bella Isla Café (Chelsea)
  • Vejigantes Restaurant (South End)
  • Merengue Restaurant (Roxbury)
  • Thmor Da Restaurant (Revere)
  • Fresh Food Generation (Dorchester)
  • Soleil Restaurant (Roxbury)
  • Sabrine Bakery and Cafe (Malden)
  • Bridge Pizzeria (Revere)
  • Caribbean Classic on Wheels (Mattapan)
  • Las Palmas Restaurant (Roslindale)
  • Fritay Restaurant (Mattapan)
  • Dona Habana (Roxbury)
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