New bill would allow Maryland food stamp recipients to use them at participating restaurants

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A new Maryland bill would expand the state’s food stamp program to allow recipients to use the benefits inside restaurants. The proposed bill will change the state’s food stamp program into a new food supplement benefits program.

“I think this is really focused on folks who are in need and that’s why we narrowly tailor it to those who are older individuals above age 60, those individuals who have documented disabilities, and those who are homeless to be able to apply these benefits. It’s not for everyone,” said Sen. Clarence Lam (D - MD 12th District)

Senate Bill 752, which introduced was introduced by Lam, has already passed the Maryland House and the Senate.

The bill will implement a restaurants meals program and allow specific recipients to use their vouchers inside restaurants all around the state.

Restaurants will not be forced to implement the program, rather, they’ll have to apply in order to allow these benefits to be used inside their establishments. Once they do that, qualified individuals will be able to walk into a sub shop, or any kind of permitted establishment, for food.

Lam says this law is meant for those who do not have the ability to store or prepare food on their own. 

It’s an effort several people in the state capital appear to stand behind.

“I think it’s a good bill to pass. They’re not being forced... The restaurant is not being forced to do anything he doesn’t want to do for something that will also benefit those who are affected by it,” said Brandon Kirk of Mason’s Lobster Rolls. 

“I think it’s a really really good idea because obviously there is no home to cook in. So they can be given that food stamp and say if they’re on the street one night, especially during the winter, it can be really really useful for them to be able to get a hot sandwich or something like that,” said Nina Grant. 

Lam says this bill can be passed as early as Monday.