Fall River Restaurant Provides Eligible Snap Recipients Hot Meals As Part Of New Program

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Fall River Restaurant Provides Eligible Snap Recipients Hot Meals As Part Of New Program

Ashley Schuler
The Herald News

FALL RIVER — One Fall River restaurant is offering those in need a place they can turn to for a hot meal.

The Massachusetts SNAP Restaurant Meals Program, which aims to assist individuals who are unable to prepare their own meals, went live at Faneek’s Coney Island, 269 Rhode Island Ave., last week.

Of the 27 restaurants and food trucks across Massachusetts participating in the pilot program, which is already available in several other states, Faneek’s is the only one in the SouthCoast. The next closest food vendor is in Brockton and the majority are located in the Worcester/Boston area.

The RMP allows certain recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) — specifically adults age 60 or older, homeless individuals, and people with disabilities — to buy food at approved vendors using their EBT card.

Run by the Department of Transitional Assistance, the program was created to support folks who encounter barriers and challenges with being able to buy, store and prepare food. The goal is to increase the accessibility of SNAP by providing more healthy meal choices to eligible SNAP recipients who may not be able to cook for themselves, according to the DTA website.

RMP is also available in several other states, but varies from state to state.

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How did Faneek’s get involved
For owners Chris and Liz Carpenter, Faneek’s involvement was part of their continued efforts to support the community.

“We are a huge proponent of the community and we operate on the belief that we are here to support the community that supports us,” said Liz Carpenter.

The elderly demographic makes up a large portion of Faneek’s business, Carpenter said, so knowing the RMP would help customers that already frequent the restaurant aided in their decision.

“Whatever we are able to do to help our community we want to do, so we definitely jumped at this opportunity,” Carpenter said.

Fall River Restaurant Provides Eligible Snap Recipients Hot Meals As Part Of New ProgramAccording to Carpenter, food vendors had to meet certain criteria in order to be approved for the state program. You had to be a quick-serve restaurant (the meal needs to be paid for before it is served); mom and pop shops only, no franchises; and you had to have an affordable menu with discounts available. Faneek’s regularly offers an elderly discount, military discount, and combo meals that are discounted.

How does it work?

The DTA is in charge of qualifying people for the program, so Faneek’s staff doesn’t have to make any determinations on that.

If a person is eligible, the RMP should already be set up on the customer’s EBT card. They would just come in and swipe their card upon ordering their meal. If a customer is not eligible for the RMP program — which doesn’t extend to all who receive SNAP benefits — and swipe their EBT card, it will direct the customer to contact the DTA.

“Then the consumer can reach out if they feel that they do qualify,” Carpenter said.

You can also check here for more information on eligibility.

What’s allowed and what’s not allowed

According to Carpenter, this program is meant specifically for purchasing hot meals, no meals tax applied.

Program participants can dine-in at the Rhode Island Avenue eatery or take their food to go, the only limitation being that orders cannot be phoned in. The meal must be paid for using their EBT card before the food is prepared and served.

Spreading the word

Right now, Carpenter said their efforts are focused on getting the word out about the program.

“The more people we are able to reach, the more we are able to help,” she said.

They have shared the news on their Facebook page, posted RMP information in the store, and will be reaching out to various senior organizations, homeless shelters, food pantries, local doctors offices and adult day care facilities.

Though it only just got off the ground, Carpenter anticipates the meals program will be well utilized among Faneek’s customers.

Since the program’s initial announcement in June, Carpenter said they’ve had people who’ve called the restaurant religiously checking to see if the RMP has gone live yet. She’s hoping it can be a win-win for all.

“I’m hoping that it will be beneficial to the demographic it’s meant to help, and to the restaurant,” she said.

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Other Faneek’s news

Aside from their RMP launch, Faneek’s has also been busy expanding business in other ways.

Carpenter said in September they debuted their new Faneeks Coney Sauce Mix, a shelf-stable spice mix concentrate that consumers can use to make their own Coney sauce at home.

It can now be found in 46 different stores in the region, and among those 20 are Stop and Shops. You can also order it on Amazon or through their website, faneeks.com.

“Our goal is to be nationwide by 2028, so we’ve got a lot of work to do,” Carpenter said.

Looking for a unique gift for the foodies on your holiday list? Faneek’s is also selling Fall River-themed gift boxes this season that include a variety of items from Faneek’s and other local retailers such as Silmo coffee syrup, Hoo Mee chow mein noodles that come with Faneek’s chow mein recipe, and Faneek’s fish and chip or clam cake batter.