KFC, or Kentucky Fried Chicken, is the second largest fast food chain in the world after McDonald’s. It has an almost a century-long history of catering to the needs of chicken lovers around the globe. Colonel Harland Sanders, the creator of the 75-year-old finger-lickin’ fried chicken recipe, founded KFC in 1930. You might recognize him as the KFC mascot clad with a bow tie on a red apron and sporting a goatee.
Since its inception, KFC has evolved into a global phenomenon. Currently, it is spread across 145 countries in over 25,000 diverse locations. It serves consistently delicious chicken menu options in an array of variations- wings or tenders, boneless or bone-in, mind or spicy, and more- at the best affordable prices.
Based in Louisville, Kentucky, KFC operates about 4,000 fast food restaurants in the United States, with 440 of them located in California. Thus, finding a KFC outlet nearby that accepts an EBT card is a big win for people under the CalFresh program. It is especially true for people who struggle to cook their food or do not have the necessary resources.
Does KFC Take EBT in California?
In short: Yes, if you live in a state that participates in the SNAP Restaurant Meals Program (RMP), such as California, Arizona, or Michigan, you can use your EBT card to pay for food at KFC. Specifically, you must meet two requirements to use your EBT card at KFC in California. First, you must be in a county with a CalFresh RMP and an authorized KFC store nearby. Secondly, you must be a CalFresh recipient who belongs to disadvantaged groups like the elderly, disabled, or homeless.
In detail: According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) guidelines, CalFresh recipients are usually restricted from using their EBT food benefits to purchase hot or prepared food. In addition, they can only redeem their food benefits on nutritious foods and groceries they can cook themselves. They may include staples, fresh produce, discounted meats, and non-alcoholic drinks.
These restrictions are imposed to discourage CalFresh recipients from using their food benefits for frivolous purchases. But, they pose challenges for disadvantaged individuals who have difficulty cooking or do not have the means to prepare their meals. The Restaurant Meals Program is a federal initiative that aids in resolving this issue. The food assistance law allows each state the choice of extending the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) through the RMP. It suggests that the states can decide whether to permit EBT cards in fast food locations like KFC.
In California, only a few counties participate in the CalFresh RMP. Moreover, not all fast-food restaurants in participating counties have received RMP approval. A restaurant can not be RMP-approved unless it satisfies specific USDA requirements. As a result, the California counties partaking in the RMP only grant the RMP authorization to qualifying fast food retailers.
Essentially, you and your local county must qualify for the CalFresh RMP to use an EBT card at an RMP-approved KFC. Also, only a few KFC locations accept EBT cards in participating counties in California. It is better to call ahead of time to confirm if a nearby KFC accepts CalFresh EBT.
About The CalFresh Restaurant Meals Program
The CalFresh Restaurant Meals Program (RMP) is a federal initiative that aims to assist the most vulnerable populations at risk of chronic hunger. For this reason, it provides nutritional aid to individuals and families that find it difficult or lack the means to prepare or store food for themselves. To achieve its goal, the RMP allows disadvantaged people to utilize their CalFresh food benefits to purchase hot and ready-to-eat meals from RMP-authorized retail vendors.
In the early 2000s, San Francisco was the first county in California to introduce the CalFresh RMP. It has grown significantly since then, becoming a statewide program on September 1, 2021. The CalFresh RMP is currently operational in 16 out of 58 counties in California, including Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Diego, and Orange.
You can qualify for the CalFresh Restaurant Meals Program if you are a CalFresh recipient with a valid EBT card. Also, belong to one of the following groups:
- an elderly (an adult aged 60 or older),
- a person with a disability,
- the spouse of someone in one of the above groups, or
- a person who is homeless.
Contact your local social services county office for more information about the CalFresh RMP.
Does Your Local KFC Take EBT in California?
California operates one of the most exhaustive restaurant meals programs in the country. Many fast food restaurants, such as KFC, accept EBT card payments at authorized outlets throughout the state.
You can pay for your KFC meal with an EBT card considering your county participates in the CalFresh RMP. Nonetheless, it must have KFC locations that have received RMP approval. Only six of 16 RMP participating counties in California have authorized KFC locations. Among these counties are:
Go to the California EBT Cardholder Portal to find a KFC outlet that accepts EBT in your county. Then, choose your county and search for ‘KFC’ in the Retailer tab. Otherwise, you can use the EBT Map Locator to look for a nearby KFC that accepts EBT.
Does KFC Take EBT Online for Delivery and Pick-up Orders?
No, you can not use an EBT card to order online food delivery or pick-up from KFC.
You can order KFC online on its website/mobile app or through third-party food delivery apps such as Uber Eats, Grubhub, and DoorDash. Regardless, you can not use an EBT card to pay for your KFC delivery or pick-up since the mentioned delivery services do not participate in the CalFresh RMP. It is due to the fact that many U.S. states, including California, only allow a small fraction of CalFresh recipients to use EBT for hot, prepared foods. Instead, you can pay for your food with one of the other payment options accepted at KFC, for instance, Visa and MasterCard.
What Other Payment Methods Does KFC Accept?
KFC accepts cash and card payments for all in-store and drive-through orders in all its restaurant locations across the country. It takes debit cards as well as credit cards such as Visa, Mastercard, and American Express (Amex). It also allows contactless payment options for in-store and drive-through orders, such as Apple Pay and Google Pay.
However, you can only pay via pre-payment methods for online delivery, takeaway, or pick-up orders through the KFC website or mobile app. They include debit or credit cards as well as Google Pay. Although KFC accepts Google Pay on its mobile app, it does not have the Apple Pay option.
Additionally, you can use a KFC gift card or voucher to pay for in-store and drive-through orders. KFC has yet to take gift cards for online payments.
What Other Fast Food Restaurants Accept EBT in California?
The CalFresh Restaurant Meals Program operates in 16 counties throughout California. Nevertheless, there are RMP-approved KFC locations in just six of the 16 counties. If you live in a county without an RMP-approved KFC location, or if the closest one is too far away, you can still buy meals at other fast food joints with RMP approval.
Aside from KFC, the following California fast food restaurants accept EBT:
- El Pollo Loco
- Burger King
- Jack in the Box
- Domino’s Pizza
- El Pollo Loco
- Pizza Hut
- Taco Bell
- Carl Jr.
- Church’s Chicken
- Del Taco
Keep in mind that not all the fast food chains mentioned above accept EBT payments in all their locations. Their RMP participation will vary depending on location and county. Since each outlet is usually independently run, each site will require USDA approval to join the CalFresh RMP.
How To Find a Fast Food Restaurant That Accepts EBT?
The Restaurant Meals Program sign is the quickest way to tell if a restaurant takes EBT. All RMP-participating restaurants display the RMP sign on their doors or windows.
In addition, you can find nearby fast food restaurants that take EBT by using one of the options listed below:
EBT Map Finder
Find a nearby fast food outlet that accepts EBT using the EBT Map Finder. You can enter an address in the search bar or select a location on a map. Use filters like Restaurants, Food, or Cash to refine your search results.
CDSS list of RMP-approved restaurants
Refer to the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) website for a list of RMP-approved restaurants classified by county. The list is updated on a quarterly basis.
Contact your local county office
You can call or visit the county office in your area and ask for the complete list of restaurants that participate in the CalFresh RMP.
The Bottom Line
You can pay for your hot chicken meal at KFC with an EBT card in California. You and your local county must participate in the CalFresh Restaurant Meals Program to pay via EBT at an authorized KFC location. Only six of 16 RMP participating counties in California have authorized KFC locations.
However, you can not use an EBT card to order food online from KFC. You can only pay via pre-payment methods for online delivery, takeaway, or pick-up orders through the KFC website or mobile app. Further, KFC accepts contactless payment options such as Apple Pay and Google Pay for in-store and online orders.
Even if your local KFC does not accept EBT payments, California has many other delectable options where you can satiate your fast food cravings. You can use your EBT card to pay for a hot meal at fast food restaurants such as El Pollo Loco, Burger King, Jack in the Box, Subway, and McDonald’s.