Jack in the Box Accepting Food Stamps


I saw this sign at my local Jack in the Box and instantly though WTF? How come they are taking EBT at a fast food joint? (EBT is the new electronic food stamps, for those not in the know.) Shouldn’t they be encouraging healthy eating instead? And this from someone that might have traded a food stamp or two for some Sierra Nevada Porter, back in the day. Apparently this is not some freak thing, this place just participates in the Restaurant Meals Program which actually seems like a good idea. It’s intended for the elderly and disabled that have a hard time cooking, and the homeless who might not have access to a kitchen. Most of the places on the list of participating restaurants seem to be fast food places but there’s a few that might be a mom and pop type of restaurant. There’s tacos, pupusas, burgers, hot dogs, Teriyaki, pollos, pizzas, and dragon locos, BBQ, and even soulfood. It’d be easy to complain about this use of public funds for fast food, but fuck that, poor folk have it hard enough as it is. Better yet, why not call out some of the “healthier” establishments for not participating in this program?


So instead of complaining about fast food joints, maybe we should ask why other restaurants don’t make an effort to sign up. Why isn’t Phillipe’s jumping on this? Or King Taco? Pure Luck? Nickel Diner? Real Food Daily? The Coffee Table? Until some other restaurants step up to the plate to volunteer to feed the homeless and disabled, then I’m going to refrain from criticizing fast food joints for doing their civic duty, even if its just in the pursuit of monetary interest. Are these other places scared of the rabble showing up? Hmm, well yeah, they might. But it’s your fellow Angelenos, surely you’d want to help some folks in need. Or does charity only begin away from home? Maybe it’s too expensive to get the necessary equipment? If California Donut can do it, then anybody can.

If you are in need, the food stamp program is one you really should consider. It helps to put food on the table while you can save some of your money for other expenses, like the damn rent. I know some people are weird about accepting assistance, but get over it already, nobody cares if you take some public funds to feed your kids. And the question of whether they owe us a living has already been answered: of course they fucking do. I consider this form of social “safety net” no different than the Fire Dept: if it’s acceptable for public funds to be used to keep you from getting burned out of your home, is it any different to have some minor help when you’re about to get pushed out of your place by the heat of poverty? I say no. Just don’t have an unscheduled health problem, cuz then yer fucked.

And though I understand the reason for this program, shouldn’t our funds be going to something much more practical, like my La Sopa proposal? Where needy people are paid to grow and cook food for other needy people? Instead, we have this half-measure where the Jack in the Box corporation gets to keep our collective dollars to squirrel away in its personal cubbyhole. It’s the nature of the corporation to want to hoard all the wealth. Is it too much to ask that our common wealth be recycled back into the public forum, so that we can all benefit just a little bit? Why is that sort of practicality so quick to be labeled Socialism? Not that there’s anything wrong with that.


Back when I had the pleasure of being on food stamps I would have loved something like this restaurant meals program, though I don’t think I would have qualified. Unless I broke my leg, but I’m not that hardcore. And unlike the current wave of logic-less thinking that adheres to the if-they-have-it-but-I-don’t-then-I’m-against-it motto, I feel that if someone else can benefit from it then it’s a good thing. Maybe if Auntie Em’s would have participated in this meal program, and I had managed to make my case for being a member, then I’d have figured out their $8 breakfast torta, with a side of rancid tomato salsa, was not worth the extra cost. But here I am, like a common chump, paying cold hard cash to find out this very boring fact. Surely they could use some of the homeless foot traffic trade, cuz who else would willingly choose to eat here?

Even if it is just another fat and salt laden fast food meal, at least it’s a break from the monotony of Kraft Macaroni & Cheez. EBT eateries are popping up, we might as well take notice. Anyone out there have any experience with this current model of food stamp usage? I certainly would like to know.

27 thoughts on “Jack in the Box Accepting Food Stamps

  1. This EBT program also helps to get these disabled and elderly folks out of the house to have lunch out every once in a while.

    The first time I saw program this was at Fresh and Meaty. I recall that they had some restrictions on what they’d sell if you use EBT, so they made you get something healthy. Someone correct me if I’m wrong.

    Anyway, a couple years ago, I was really hungry, and went to the MLK F&M and thought they’d have veggie burgers because the one on Florence has veggies. They didn’t have veggies, so I asked for a fish burger, breaking my meatless tendency. It was the freakin best fish burger I’ve ever had.

    They also have pretty good fresh fries, and some things that might be healthy, in addition to the usual burgers and chili fries.

  2. i’m guessing pricier restaurants don’t participate because it won’t bring that many more people through. the card has finite funds on it, so the holder of the card is likely to spend it where s/he can get the most meals. of course, you never know until you try, right?

  3. Fast food places were probably lobbying for this for years. Previously, EBT sales were the domain of grocery stores. Fast Food companies wanted in on the action. The end result will obviously be a worsening diet for EBT participants. The adults can do as they wish. I’m not one of these people that gets all fucky over people using their government benefits for a little guilty pleasure here and there. When you compare their minor abuse to that of bailed out corporate CEOs taking vacations to the Caribbean on the tax payer’s dime, and socking the rest of their bailout loot into hidden accounts in the Cayman islands, I can deal with someone living week to week in an impoverished, urban area getting an oreo cookie milkshake on food stamps. But of course, childrens’ diets will suffer in the long term due to this. It’s not like a lot of their parents were buying the healthiest food at the grocery stores, to begin with. Some of these kids with more irresponsible, lazy parents on EBT are now going to go from frozen pizza to sourdough jacks, a bit of a downgrade. Not that frozen pizzas were great, but compared to a hamburger cooked on a friar with fries to boot? I see a type 2 diabetes disaster on the loom in 20 years.

  4. How does this work?!

    I thought that there were regulations against buying prepared food with food stamps or EBT as they call it today.

    My mom & I went through a hard patch in the 70’s had she to use food stamps for about a year. These were the old school stamps you tore out of a book… anyway, I remember the cashiers at Boys would pull the items you couldn’t by with stamps (junk food, beer, cigarettes, candy) off the belt and ask if you had cash – however there was this one lady that was cool with my mom and let everything (my Trix cereal) go through… WInos on GR used to sell their stamps for .50 on the dollar to be able to buy liquor – I guess the EBT card eliminates that hustle…

    In South LA, many fried fish spots get around the restrictions buy letting you buy the fish with stamps and then fry ’em up for free. Does anyone know how Jack gets away with this? Have the rules changed?

  5. Maybe it is LA’s new health plan. Since it’s inside only, people now have to get a minimal amount of exercise by actually getting out of the car and walking into the restaurant to get their Angry TRIPLE WHOPPER® vs. the drive thru.

  6. That is so messed up. All part of the plan to kill the poor one burger at a time.

    That $8 Auntie Em’s torta looks just like the $4 one I get at Antigua Bread all the time. It’s a carbolicious one day meal.

  7. I’m actually rather surprised to see a government program like this after reading about the great health plan the Democraps are coming up with (and still getting called socialists by the repukelicans)… It ssems that everyone will be required by law to get health insurance, and if you don’t… you get fined…. Technically maybe this is “socialism”, in the since of state intrusion into the economy… but the intrusion is at the expense of the poor for the benefit of the goddamn insurance companies… and let’s face it, if you don’t have money, and to avoid the fine, you get the health insurance you can afford, what do they cover/ Not a goddamn thing of any use (too many deductables, too much just plain not covered)… and so where are we? just where we’ve been for years already, but with an added monthly medical insurance bill. Why hasn’t the government done anything like this with food yet? Because we don’t yet have a system where , before buying food, you have to buy permission to buy food, that will cover some of the costs after some high deductible. Someday, this “food insurance’ will come to exist. then in the name of “balancing the budget” and “lowering taxes”, the government will get rid of food stamps and require everyone to get food insurance” in the name of guaranteeing tha eveyone can eat. But instead the poor will have spent all their money on the food insurance, and have nothing to actually buy food with…Well, except for those who ignor the law and go to the illegal food dealer… Pardon the rant….

  8. I was a little surprised to see that Trader Joe’s takes EBT cards. Their grocery prices are reasonable and they carry prepared meals (salads, pasta, Americanized sushi).
    If people are health conscious and have EBT cards, at least they have options.

  9. Whatever makes it easier for people. I am not happy that Jack in the Box is an option, but it’s cheap. If you don’t have much and you don’t have a stove or fridge or electricity, it’s an option. I want poor people to have the same choice to have crappy food as everyone else, I would prefer everyone not eat crappy food, but I don’t want to take away every little bit of joy from someone because they are poor. If you are poor all you have is McDonalds. There are no trips to Disneyland or the movies or the toy store or Ipods or cars when you turn 16, your mom gets a little extra and gets you a Happy Meal or some small fries that you share with your little sister.

    I think how food stamps were set up before was harsh, maybe now it’s a little looser and that’s good.

    You can go to the grocery store and use your card, but you know what if you were a mom or dad and you wanted to get your kid some crappy food just like everyone else for a special occasion, that’s nice that you can do that. Of course there are lots of other issues, but on a base level, since we can’t fix it all at least we can give out some cool band-aids and some off brand Robitussin.

    I used to be real idealistic in regards to what poor people should be doing, but you know then I actually met some poor people and its just insane it all seems unfixable and these little moral stands we all take it just seems laughable when you are sitting there talking to a mom and her three kids in a one room sro with a bathroom down the hall that she shares with 20 other families. Yeah she shouldn’t feed her two year old cheetos, but she also shouldn’t have to live in squalor in America, but she does.


  10. Man, that’s funny. EBT at Auntie Em’s. How bout at Millie’s on Saturday about 2? M Cafe? Fatty’s? Brite Spot? I’d love to shove an EBT card at the cashier there. How about at Santa La Brea? Every fuckin restaurant in LA should be on that list!

    Ain’t no shame in that game. Maybe from the establishment end, not wanting to invite the riff raff. I’d drop my lazy ass at a booth and say, “Hi. Yes, I’d like to order 2 vegan pancakes, could you not hedge on the maple syrup please. Uh, make sure it’s the organic one ok? Thanks. Oh, and soy butter if you don’t mind. Oh, and no hydrogenated oils please. Is your almond milk, cruelty-free? Good. Oh really?” All the while holding an EBT card.

    That reminds me, I stopped off at this Serbian “festival” in Monterey Park this past Saturday. The banner said “all welcome” and as I neared the entrance, I asked a woman, “How much is the admission?” She looks me over and says, “ten dollars.” I walk over to the entrance: It was 2 bucks. Guess I wasn’t part of that “all”. I kept my four quarters.

  11. This cooked food program is only for the elderly or families with a Social Security disability recipient. It’s not for the general population. I think the idea is that, sometimes, people will have trouble getting to the store or cooking.

    I agree with Browne about junk food. I eat junk food more than I should – and, well, I eat less than a lot of people. I bag my lunch most of the time. I’m pretty sure every one of you who wagged your virtual finger at the hypothetical EBT food stamp recipient hits the snack crackers every once in a while.

    We can’t go around setting higher standards for welfare recipients than we do for ourselves. That’s unrealistic.

    Besides, you can buy junk food with food stamps. You don’t need Jack in the Box.

    A burger from Jack is just smaller than a burger made at home.

  12. bhhapa,
    Back in the paper food stamps days, Trader Joe’s refused to accept them, and I know because we asked them to do so. I think now that it’s electronic and just another card, stores don’t seem to get all weird about it, and lots of customers also seem to prefer to keep their poverty private.

  13. I remember back in the day (late 80s, early 90s) Trader Joe’s was a poor man’s grocer before it got all popular among hipsters. “Organic” and “vegan” were not in people’s vocabulary. My mom used to buy tuna cans there for .25 cents.

    I buy produce at Food 4 Less.

  14. I never remember TJs being the poor man grocer, maybe the bohemian man, but not the poor man. If it was where is TJ in the poorer and more poc oriented neighborhoods? The first TJ was in Pasadena and it was south of Colorado and Pasadena isn’t exactly open to diversity (economic or racial) and it (Pasadena south of Colorado) was pretty open about it in 1967. TJ had good prices, but being economic and thrifty isn’t poor, if it had the poor connotation TJ would have a new name like Big Lots which used to be Pic N Save also known as the poor man’s Target, though maybe that is the 99 cent store.


  15. 2x browne. trader joe’s was always gourmet. when they opened one up in the bay area around 1994, they were definitely considered part of the mix of stores like the berkeley bowl, andronico’s, monterey market, and whole foods (which took over the berkeley co-op’s store). tj’s was just cheaper than the gourmet stores, and had more prepared food than berkeley bowl.

    in l.a. in the late 80s, tjs that i knew were in pasadena, south pasadena and san gabriel up near san marino.

    what’s changed is that stores like ralphs and vons and albertsons have made a big push to become fancier, and they were starting to exude some of the andronico’s/wholefoods ambiance. the crisis undid their plans, but, until that happened, they were going to raise their prices.

    so, now, tj’s doesn’t seem quite so expensive or fancy.

  16. As someone who cruises through this Jack regularly, I did think WTF when I saw that sign…but I gotta say, it’s really hard to do Jack In The Box healthy on a budget. You can get a Jumbo Jack and a coke for $2.50 but if you try to get the Whole Wheat Pita meal, it’s like $7 something. Those salads are huge and delicious, but why spend $10 at Jack in the Crack when you can feed yourself for a week at Food 4 Less on that? Whatever happened to Meals on Wheels?

  17. Vidalia I’ve noticed healthier foods on fast food menus costing more than their signature junk food, too. If I weren’t such a patriotic capitalist, I’d think they were trying to hook us on the junk food. But of course, I’m a free thinker and I’m smart enough to know that Americans want to eat junk food, be miserable, have serious health problems in their 30s and always be broke, and therefore companies like Jack N the Box are just providing this marvelous service!

  18. LMAO….EBT? Cool that Jack does that for the those who have been forced to sign up for EBT because i’d rather have someone eating than trading their EBT for dope or alcohol, not to say you can’t get high off a pair of Jack’s tacos, but honestly the way the economy is going if I get laid off I am on my way to EBT, and JACK HERE I COME !!! LOL.

  19. Jack is pure ratshit and as many others have stated here – these greedy GODless vampires take the vast majority of their profit and pump it into gated communities w/ guard shacks and boat slips. They don’t live amongst those they serve. They have no love for the communities they plop their disease distribution units into. Fast food companies do more damage the human race than Tobacco. And by the way – they are powerful b/c we patronize them. Stop. If you like burgers and fries, go local and starve them out.

    Complicated issue/ but the answer is not corporate fast food.

  20. Hi, I just signed up for EBT and wow, it was so simple, I encourage all people who are in need to do this, but do not take drugs, you will get tested and that is a no-no. they do not accept people on drugs, you may have to do a program and that sucks; the advantage is that not only do you get food stamps, but you can sign up and pick up free food at the food bank near your home; wow, I scored again. Now, the application/interview process; of course you are depressed because you cannot find a job, your parents are yelling at you as are others; its depressing but your not thinking about killing yourself; they will report you to the Police; now you are eligble for the new Obama Health care Plan and sign up for HealthyFamilies program; yes! no GAIN program, that is a pain in the butt; go to your couseling for about 6-nine months and be on time always; no excuses; get it? that’s gives you time to really look for a job and work in between as long as you don’t earn over $600 bucks in a month; you’re in like Flint. Now go to Super A Market and enjoy healthy foods (They have Harris Ranch Beef – Protein) and Trader Joes and Real tasty Barbecue at Bonnie B’s Smokin Ribs on Lake Ave in Pasadena. Yes! hum….good…

    Print the list of where you can eat and buy food and get cash back without them taking a fee; You are now back on your feet temporary and God Bless.

  21. Our taxes are being used for the lazy to get fast free food. These places should be ashamed for taking tax payers money. I hope all of these people get sick like we did. I won’t even accept free food from them since we all got sick with their cheap tacos once and we have never gone back there. They take too long to serve you and they hire mostly retards. Their menu is too expensive, so What-a-burger is the place to go for us.

  22. I just recently lost my job, which led to other serious and unfortunate events, which caused me to lose my home. I’m living in my car, and have been applying for jobs as if it were a full time job. I had some money saved, but it wasn’t cutting it. I applied for SNAP benefits (and since I do not have children, I did not qualify for cash aid) and I’m very thankful for them. I have a bachelors degree and thankfully have interviews this week. I never realized how hard being homeless is. Trying to find public restrooms to use, and finding establishments with HOT water to cook a cup of noodles is very difficult. So I understand the use of EBT at certain fast food places. A lot of them accept the ebt CASH not food stamps (SNAP). SO, at this point I’m very greatful to have food I can eat (mostly sandwiches I make with my fancy make shift cook/cutting board) in my tiny hatch back car! Will I be on SNAP forever? I hope not. Do I appreciate having food in my belly? Definitely. I have worked 17.00 an hour jobs and have contributed to others using benefits. I have also payed taxes and been productive in society. Great article! Wish me luck finding employment!

  23. I think this is all a misunderstanding. CalFresh (SNAP/food stamp) is not the only program using EBT. CalWorks also uses EBT. I think one cannot use his CAlFresh EBT there unless he is in the restaurant program (senior, disabled). But one can use his CalWorks EBT there.

  24. And I guess one can use CalFresh EBT to buy a small-sized cartoon of milk, if available, at a fast food restaurant, because it is not pre-prepared food.

  25. Four of our five family members got sick when we ate their cheap tacos in 2014, so we haven’t purchased a single item from them anymore.

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