In October 2021, New York State (NYS) Governor Kathy Hochul signed into law legislation enacting the Restaurant Meals Program (RMP) to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The RMP is an extension of SNAP, allowing eligible SNAP recipients to spend their benefits at restaurants. The goal of the RMP is to allow a targeted SNAP population—the elderly, disabled, and homeless—to have greater accessibility to purchase prepared, low-cost, hot meals that would otherwise be out of reach. Restaurant Meals Programs are currently enacted in just six states. Few analyses have evaluated its strengths and weaknesses. By identifying the RMP-eligible population’s food-related challenges in NYS as well as the issues the RMP faces in other states, NYS can utilize this knowledge for its own successful implementation. Interviews were conducted within NYS to identify the food-related challenges the RMP-eligible population currently face. An interview was conducted with the Office of Temporary Disability Assistance (OTDA) to learn about the NYS’s policy goal for the RMP. An interview was conducted with a representative of the San Francisco Health Safety Agency (SFHSA) to identify challenges and successes of a current RMP. Additionally, three pieces of scholarly RMP literature were analyzed to identify issues faced by RMP’s across the country. NYS’s elderly, disabled, and homeless populations face difficulties accessing healthy foods due to a lack of mobility options to access food, sufficient locations to utilize benefits, and the ability to cook or store food purchased with benefits. The main issues identified with the RMP were poor advertising and outreach strategies, geographic inequity, administrative challenges, inadequate restaurant eligibility standards, a lack of diverse foods, abuse and stigma, as well as food inaccessibility for the immobile.
Science, Technology and Public Policy (MS)
Department, Program, or Center
Public Policy (CLA)
Cohen, Evan, "The Restaurant Meals Program: A Guide for New York State’s Successful Implementation" (2022). Thesis. Rochester Institute of Technology. Accessed from
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