Restaurant Meals Program pilot seeks participating restaurants

By Niya K. Kelly, Director of State Legislative Policy, Equity and Transformation

In 2019, Chicago Coalition for the Homeless worked alongside Heartland Alliance and Shriver Center on Poverty Law to expand the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). This legislation allows people who are elderly, disabled, or experiencing homelessness to purchase prepared meals with their SNAP benefits at restaurants or supermarkets with hot bars. This change helps individuals who do not have access to a kitchen or are unable to use their kitchen safely.  

Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) is piloting the program in targeted zip codes before expanding it to the rest of the state.  

To participate in the pilot, a restaurant must be located in one of the following areas:  

  • Dewitt County  
  • Cook County – zip codes 60619, 60620, 60628 and 60617  

They must also:  

  • Have sit-down seating available (unless prohibited by a public health order that would only allow delivery or takeout).  
  • Be fully accessible to persons with disabilities.  
  • Be in and maintain compliance with all current federal, state, and local laws, regulations, and/or orders throughout the duration of participation in the program.  
  • Provide low-cost meals.  
  • Have a point-of-sale device to process SNAP transactions. 

While the restaurants must be in these communities, SNAP recipients living outside of the designated areas can still patronize restaurants participating in the program. If you are a restaurant owner listed above and are interested in applying, please visit and complete the Request to Participate. Once the pilot begins, we will provide a list of participating restaurants.