The Florida Meals Project

Updated: Jul 14, 2019

By Alvin Codner:


Florida Meals Project (FMP) And FMP Component: E&T


Primary Objective of the FMP:


The Florida Meals Project will allow eligible homeless, disabled, and/or elderly (ages 60 and above)… who are SNAP recipients, to use their EBT card to purchase hot, prepared food from participating restaurants.


Florida Meals Project Component: Employment and Training (E&T) :


The FMP E&T framework includes a vision, mission, and strategic goals that help define success and lay the core foundation for the program’s E&T. These strategic goals are focused around a central vision to increase the employment and earning capacity of FMP recipients by maximizing their access to FMP benefits, E&T, supportive services, skills, and credentialing.

Vision Increase the employment and earning capacity of all Florida Meals Program recipients

Mission Provide help to Florida Meals Program recipients to reach self-sufficiency through employment and training strategies/supportive services, vocational skills, and credentialing.

Strategic Goals 1. Increase job placement, retention, and wages 2. Increase FMP E&T participation across a dynamic mix of people, communities, and cultures 3. Increase employability by removing barriers to employment 4. Increase skills attainment and credentialing 5. Lead an efficient and effective customer-focused E&T program

*Each county will be over which dates, location, and times that trainings will be held.


Project Possible Proposals


  • SNAP Recipients to have the option/ability to purchase hot meals from selective restaurants.

  • Pilot Programs: Osceola, Orange, Polk

  • Provide/inform SNAP recipients different budgeting meal plans for them to manage their benefits throughout their monthly assistance.

  • E & T Program (DCF may already have a version of this)

  • Increase the FPL from 200% to a higher percentage.

  • Change the resulting amount from not exceeding 100% to a higher percentage.

  • Change Semi-Annual to Tri-Annual Reporting

  • State give authority given to local government City and or County to enact a Restaurants Meal Program

  • Allowing Snap recipients to be eligible to pick up their EBT card at local government building.

Dear Congresswoman Murphy,

Since 1977, the federal Food Stamp Act has given states the ability to enact a Restaurant Meals Program. The Florida Meals Project allows vulnerable and at-risk populations, such as the people who are homeless, elderly, and disabled, who cannot cook meals for themselves at home and or cannot cook meals because they have no place to reside. Through this program, these specific, qualifying individuals are allowed to use their EBT/SNAP food benefits to purchase affordable meals at select restaurants.

Versions of this program has been successfully adopted in Arizona, California, Hawaii, Michigan, and Rhode Island. However, it is not yet available in our state to my knowledge. Based on my research I have seen a limited version projected in Alachua County, but I am not sure if that program is still up and running or was ever implemented.

Please take action to introduce the Florida Meals Project in our state. If certain objectives within the program doesn’t seem feasible, please be open to suggesting alternative options and or giving the authority to the local government level to implement the program per county and or city by a majority vote.

Sincerely, Alvin Codner

Cardholder Eligibility

FMP eligibility for EBT cardholders is determined by each county and is automatically verified through the point-of-sale (POS) equipment at the time of each EBT transaction at authorized restaurants. If a client is ineligible, an error message will appear on the POS device and the transaction will not be approved. Denial codes displayed on POS systems vary.

County or City Participation

Each county determines if it wants to participate in the FMP. Counties or Cities interested in participating must submit a proposal to the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) or United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Restaurant Participation

Restaurants must be located within a county that’s participating in the FMP. To determine if your county is participating, check with the county's Department of Social Services. A restaurant interested in accepting FMP benefits must sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the county. This MOU must be submitted with the federal application for authorization. Call the SNAP Retailer Service Center () to obtain a paper Meal Service Application or you can download and print off the PDF Form FNS-252-2 at https://fns-prod.azureedge.net/sites/default/files/snap/Attachment-A-FNS-252-2.pdf

Once enrolled in the FMP, a restaurant must have or obtain POS equipment that can process EBT transactions, and the equipment must include a personal identification number (PIN) pad.

Taxes Restaurants are prohibited from charging sales tax or meal tax on prepared foods purchased with EBT food benefits, such as FMP or SNAP benefits. However, prepared foods purchased with EBT cash benefits are taxable.

Eligibility and Issuance Requirements

For households to receive FMP benefits they must provide certain information in the following areas:

Citizenship/Immigration Status

Certain non-citizens such as those admitted for humanitarian reasons and those admitted for permanent residence may be eligible for FMP benefits. Eligible household members can get FMP benefits even if other members of the household are not eligible.

In general, FMP eligibility is available to most lawfully-present immigrants who:

· Have lived in the country (in a qualified status) for five (5) years, or

· Are receiving disability-related assistance or benefits, regardless of entry date, or

· Are children under 18 years of age who are qualified and lawfully-admitted for permanent residence under the Immigration and Nationalization Act.

· Non-citizens that are in the U.S. temporarily, such as students* or tourists are not eligible just as undocumented individuals are not eligible.

- More information can be found in the Federal Non-Citizen Guide .

Income

FMP households, except those containing an aged (60 or older) or disabled member or where all members receive cash assistance, are subject to gross and net income determination tests. Gross Income – all non-excludable income from any source including all earned income and all unearned income. The original maximum growth is 200% of the FPL but, if possible, the FMP presents the maximum gross allowed to be increased[except for households who are sanctioned, households with certain convicted drug felons (until April 1, 2015) or households who have been convicted of an Intentional Program Violation]. If the household passes the gross income test, then the net income test is computed. Net income is computed by deducting the following, if applicable, from gross income. The resultant amount originally could not exceed 100% of the FPL but the FMP suggest the amount not to proceed the a increased percentage amount.

Earned income has an allowable deduction of 20% (i.e., 80% of the gross earned income counts in the calculation of benefit levels). Examples of earned income include wages and salaries, striker's benefits, etc.

Standard Deduction – A deduction allowed per household per month. $164 for households of 1–3 persons, $174 for 4 persons, $204 for 5 persons, and $234 for 6 or more persons (effective 10/1/18). Liable to change due to IRS yearly change of Tax Rates and Standard Deduction Amounts.

Excess Shelter – A monthly shelter cost in excess of 50% of the household's income after all above deductions are considered. The excess shelter deduction must not exceed the current maximum of $552 (effective 10/1/18). Liable to change due to IRS yearly change of Tax Rates and Standard Deduction Amounts.

Homeless Household Shelter – Available to homeless persons who are not receiving free shelter for the entire month. If the homeless shelter allowance is used, separate utility costs are not allowed because the homeless shelter allowance includes a utility component. The current allowance is $143 and remains unchanged (effective 10/1/18). Research Florida Statistics

Standard Utility Allowance (SUA) – Allowed for a household that incurs utility costs, which are separate and apart from the household's rent/mortgage payment. The current allowance is $415 (effective 10/1/18). Research Florida Statistics

Limited Utility Allowance (LUA) – Allowed for a household that incurs expenses for at least two separate utilities other than heating and cooling are eligible for a LUA. The LUA allowance is $130 (effective 10/1/18). Research Florida Statistics

Telephone Utility Allowance (TUA) - A household that is not eligible for the SUA or LUA but incurs a telephone expense or in its absence an equivalent form of communication, is eligible to receive a telephone deduction. The TUA allowance remains at $18 (effective 10/1/18). Research Florida Statistics

Dependent Care – A household shall be entitled, with respect to expenses for dependent care, to a dependent care deduction for the actual cost of payments necessary for the care of a dependent if the care enables a household member to accept or continue employment, or training or education that is preparatory for employment.

Medical Deduction – The portion of medical expenses, excluding special diets, in excess of the allowable amount of $35 per household per month (incurred by any household member who is elderly or disabled).

Exempt Income

· In-Kind Benefits – Any gain or benefit that is not in the form of money (i.e., meals, clothing, housing provided by the employer, etc.)

· Vendor Payments – Money paid to a third party for a household expense by a person or organization outside of the household.

· Deferred Educational Loans

· Grants and Scholarships

· Cash donations from a charitable organization of not more than $300 in a calendar quarter.

· Income received too infrequently/irregularly to be reasonably anticipated but not more than $30 in a quarter.

200% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) (Current Requirements)

· Most FMP households are subject to a gross income determination test. Gross Income is all non-excludable income from any source including all earned income and all unearned income. The maximum gross allowed is 200% of the Federal poverty level (FPL). Below is a chart of gross monthly income for 200% of the Federal poverty level by household size.

Gross Monthly Income Eligibility Standards for Modified Categorical Eligibility (MCE)/Broad-Based Categorical Eligibility (BBCE) (200% of Poverty Level)

Household Size Gross Income 1 $2,024 2 2,744 3 3,464 4 4,184 5 4,904 6 5,694 7 6,344 8 7,064 Each Additional Member +720


Subject to Change if Income Eligibility Standards is modified


Reporting Changes

FMP recipients must notify their local County Social Services Department about changes in their income or other circumstances. Such changes may affect their eligibility for benefits. There are two kinds of reporting: Change and Semi-Annual, which are described below:


Change Reporting

Change reporting households are those in which household members are seasonal and/or migrant farm workers, elderly, disabled or homeless.

These households are required to report within 10 days from the date of a change in writing, verbally or in person.


Changes required to be reported are:

· The source and amount of gross income of more than $25

· addition or loss of a household member; address changes and shelter costs

· when cash on hand, stocks, bonds, money in a bank account or savings reach a total of $2,000 ($3,000 for elderly and disabled households)

· a change in child support payments made to a non-household member.


Semi-Annual Reporting

Semi-Annual Reporting (SAR) households must submit one periodic report form (SAR 7) once a year followed by a recertification form no later than six months later.

The SAR 7 asks the household to report income, medical and dependent care expenses, and any other change the household is expecting for the remainder of their certification period.

In-between reporting changes on the SAR 7, SAR households are required to report when their household income exceeds their Income Reporting Threshold (200% of the Federal Poverty Level in most cases).

Households may report , during the certification period, any change that could increase benefits, such as a job loss or increased shelter expenses.

Resources

A resource is something the household can draw upon or sell for financial assistance. Most households are not subject to the resource limit. The household types that are still required to meet eligibility requirements for resources, resource limits for those households, and the type of resources which are considered are listed below.

1. Which households are subject to the Resource Limit?

Resources are counted only for those households that:

§ Contain a member who has been disqualified from participating in FMP because of an Intentional Program Violation,

§ Have a head of household does not comply with work requirements,

§ Have any member of the household has been convicted of certain categories of drug felonies


2. What is the resource limit for those households?

§ Households that fit one of the three descriptions above are subject to a resource limit of $2,250. If they also have a member who has a disability or who is 60 years of age or older, the resource limit is $3,250. Any countable resource will be added to the household's resource limit when making an eligibility determination. Liable to change if FPL percentage is increased.

3. What types of resources are counted?


Households that fit the description in section 1 above will need to report the following types of resources:


· Liquid Resources – Includes all funds readily available to the household such as cash on hand, money in checking or savings accounts, savings certificates, trust deeds, notes receivable, stocks, or bonds, non-recurring lump sum payments [which includes retroactive payments, funds held in an individual retirement accounts (IRA) and funds held in accessible Keogh plans].


· Non-Liquid Resources – Includes personal property, buildings, land, recreational properties, and any other property. The value of non-exempt resources shall be its equity value, which is the fair market value less encumbrances.


· Excluded Resources – Resources which are not counted are the home and surrounding property, vehicles, household goods, personal effects, resources with an equity value of $1500 or less (excluding financial instruments), and resources with a cash value that is not accessible to the household (such as irrevocable trust funds, security deposits on rental property, etc.)


Work Requirements

· If you only get FMP benefits, there are some work rules you may need to meet. You may need to take part in certain employment and training activities such as searching for work, performing community service, or going to school or training. Your county will tell you if you need to participate in any of these activities or if you are excused. You may be given the chance to volunteer to participate in order to help you prepare to find work or go to school. There are some exceptions, so contact your local County Social Service Department to find out if you are eligible.


Work Rule for Able-Bodied Adults Not Receiving Cash Aid

· If you only receive FMP and you don’t have minor children, there is another work rule which you also may need to meet. You do not have to meet this work rule if it is waived in your county. (Depends if a county wants to make a work rule). You also are excused from it if you are under 18, over age 49, pregnant, living in a FMP household with a minor child, and for other reasons your county can explain. Your county worker will tell you if you have to meet this work rule. There are some exceptions, so contact your local County Social Service Department to find out if you are eligible.


Sample of County Notice


ALL COUNTY INFORMATION NOTICE

TO: ALL COUNTY SOCIAL SERVICE DIRECTORS

ALL FOOD STAMP COORDINATORS


SUBJECT: FLORIDA MEAL PROGRAM FOR THE HOMELESS, ELDERLY, AND DISABLED

The purpose of this letter is to provide the counties with information regarding the option, as allowed in federal regulation, to implement a restaurant meals program that would enable homeless, disabled and elderly food stamp households to use food stamp benefits in order to purchase meals at participating restaurants. Pilot programs will be in one or all of the counties: Osceola, Orange, Polk.

Any interested county can submit to the Florida Department of Social Services (DCF) a proposal requesting approval to implement the Florida Meals Program. The key component of the proposal will be the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to be used with participating restaurants detailing obligations of both the county and the restaurant. Such obligations for both parties have been itemized in an MOU in use by counties in other states which is provided with this letter as a sample for your use.


General responsibilities for the county include:

- Certifying homeless, elderly and disabled recipients of food stamps as eligible to purchase low cost meals with food stamp benefits in restaurants which have entered into MOU's with the county for this purpose.

- Identifying households entitled to participate in the program for the use of food stamp benefits at authorized restaurants.

- Informing those recipients of the names and addresses of participating restaurants.

- Providing and Informing recipients different budgeting meal plans for them to manage their benefits throughout the monthly assistance.


The MOU must contain a requirement that the restaurant provide at least one of the two options:


· Any meal that is currently on the restaurant’s menu that cost between $4 to $8 can be purchased by those who receive FMP benefits.


OR


· Low cost or discount meals during regular hours to eligible homeless, elderly or disabled persons. Low cost meals are defined as meals that cost less than what would be charged to customers not using food stamp benefits. Discounted meals are defined as meals already offered to certain consumers or advertised special or sale priced meals offered to all consumers.

On the DCF' approval of the county's draft MOU, the county must execute an MOU with each restaurant. The county or state must issue an identification card to each eligible recipient that has on it the person's name, case number, expiration date and signature.

Each restaurant must agree to abide by all rules and regulations of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for food stamp acceptance and redemption. Any restaurant that wishes to enter into a contract with the county must submit to USDA an Application for Authorization to Participate in the Food Stamp Program for Communal Dining Facilities (FNS-252-2) and the restaurant must notify the county when it receives authorization of its application. Further information is available at www.fns.usda.gov/fsp/retailers

A county must submit to DCF a draft identification card for the eligible recipients of the restaurant meals program. Additionally, a county must submit draft outreach information to advertise the restaurant meals program to the restaurant community and to the eligible recipient community including information on standards and availability. DCF approval of a restaurant meals program will be contingent upon receiving all required information.


Nondiscrimination Statement

In accordance with Federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, the USDA, its Agencies, offices, and employees, and institutions participating in or administering USDA programs are prohibited from discriminating based on race, color, national origin, sex, religious creed, disability, age, political beliefs, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA.

Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication for program information (e.g. Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language, etc.), should contact the Agency (State or local) where they applied for benefits. Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or have speech disabilities may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339. Additionally, program information may be made available in languages other than English.

To file a program complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, (AD-3027) found online at: http://www.ascr.usda.gov/complaint_filing_cust.html, and at any USDA office, or write a letter addressed to USDA and provide in the letter all of the information requested in the form. To request a copy of the complaint form, call (866) 632-9992. Submit your completed form or letter to USDA by:

(1) mail: U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights 1400 Independence Avenue, SW Washington, D.C. 20250-9410;

(2) fax: (202) 690-7442; or

(3) email: program.intake@usda.gov.

This institution is an equal opportunity provider.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About the Florida Meals Program


What can FMP benefits be used to purchase? FMP benefits can be used to purchase:

Foods and Non-Alcoholic beverages for human consumption.Seeds and plants to grow food for human consumption.


What can you not purchase with FMP?


FMP benefits cannot be used to purchase:


Any non-food item such as pet food, soaps, paper products, household supplies, grooming items and cosmetics.


Alcoholic beverages or tobacco products.


Vitamins and medicines.

Any food that will be eaten in the store. *Any food marketed to be heated in the store. *

* Except in a restaurant located in a county approved to operate FMP.


Who can receive FMP benefits? You may be eligible to receive FMP benefits, whether or not you work, if you have a low income.


What is the amount of FMP benefits I will receive? The amount of FMP benefits a low-income person or family can receive is based on the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Thrifty Food Plan which is the lowest plan out of the four USDA Food plans which the other 3 are the Low-cost plan, Moderate-cost plan, and Liberal Plan. These plan estimates how much it costs to provide a household with nutritious, low-cost meals. The estimates are revised every year to keep pace with changes in food prices. The average amount of FMP benefits received per individual under the Thrifty food plan is between $150 to $200 per month.


Where do I go to apply for FMP benefits? Any Florida operated local county social service department. Low-income people may apply for FMP benefits at any welfare department located in the county where they live such as city hall and or county commissioner’s office.


If I am receiving SSI/SSP, can I also receive FMP benefits? If you are receiving SSI/SSP, you cannot receive FMP benefits in Florida. However, other household members may be eligible to receive FMP benefits.


What food restaurants are already participating in other states (California/Arizona) that allow disabled, homeless or the elderly to use their EBT card to purchase hot, prepared foods:

Subway


Pizza Hut


Taco Bell


El Pollo Loco

Quiznos


Del Taco


Blimpe Subs and Salads


WINGSTOP

Burger King


KFC


Dominoes


Denny’s

Golden Corral


Jack in the Box


Papa Johns Pizza


Carl’s Jr

Church’s Chicken


Little Caesar’s Pizza


Popeye’s Chicken


Wendy’s

McDonalds




Many other local small business food restaurants also participate.

 

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 Political advertisement paid for and approved by Alvin Codner, for City of Kissimmee Commissioner Seat 5