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EBT now stands for restaurant meals

A sign in a market window advertises the acceptance of food stamps in New York City.

TEXT OF STORY

Steve Chiotakis: There are some new signs luring customers into fast food restaurants around Los Angeles these days. No, they're not glossy close-ups of half-pound beef patties. They are plain white and blue signs, saying: "Now Accepting EBT" -- that's shorthand for food stamps. Reporter Vanessa Romo has more.


Vanessa Romo: Things weren't always so dire for Maria Ochoa. She once owned a beauty salon, a house, and a gold Lexus. But now she's at El Pollo Loco eating her one hot meal of the day.

Maria Ochoa: I always eat cold food, but I'm tired because sometimes we want some hot meals. And now that I know that they get the EBT, I come here and eat a hot meal.

EBT stands for Electronic Benefits Transfer. It's a debit card for food stamps.

Ochoa, a woman in her 50's with red permed hair and polished nails, is now living in that gold Lexus. Six months ago, she would have been hard-pressed to find a restaurant that takes food stamps. Now El Pollo Loco, Dominos and Jack in Box are part of L.A. county's Restaurant Meals program.

Lydia Erviti oversees the program, which includes more than 500 restaurants.

Lydia Erviti: Our goal is to provide healthy meals for the homeless, disabled and elderly participants. Especially the homeless because they don't have space to store food or cook.

Restaurant Meals is also paying off for those on the cooking end.

Joe Stein is the head of Strategy and Innovation for El Pollo Loco:

Joe Stein: I can tell you for 2010, just the way it's trending, we wouldn't be surprised if for company and franchise stores was over $2 million. From something that just started in August 09, that's pretty good size growth.

Good enough to interest other chains in joining the program, like Pizza Hut and Burger King. But food stamps still won't get you a Big Mac or Chicken McNuggets. Not yet anyway.

That's OK with Maria Ochoa:

Ochoa: With my blood pressure and my diabetic, I can not eat too much salt and greasy food. That's why I prefer to come here.

For now she's sticking with the grilled chicken.

In Los Angeles, I'm Vanessa Romo for Marketplace.

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To all those whining about paying taxes to feed other people. The money either goes to feed people or it will goto to something stupid like a projects that never get finished!!!! Or it will goto funding some politicians brand new JAG!!! Think about it and dont be idiots!! I am a working father and are a happy tax payer and I am happy to pay my taxes so stop bitching!

First may I say to all of you with the high and mighty attitudes, Karma is a b**ch. Someday it may be YOU that needs some help and somewhere, someone will stick their nose up and think of what a waste of air you are because you are down on your luck. Then your comments will come back and bite you on your fat, obnoxious butts. I'm not on welfare or foodstamps but I do work in a field where I help the needy. Since when did Americans become so class conscious and so uncaring and unfeeling about their fellow man? What in the hell is wrong with you people? You make me ashamed of my fellow countrymen with your attitudes. Here's an idea. If you don't like it here and you don't want to help others in their time of need, leave. The sooner the better. I'm tired of the hatred and the moaning, bitching, and whining from ignorant a-holes who have been told at some point by someone they are special. You're not. And I pray that someday you too will walk a mile in these peoples shoes. Just so you can see what it is like.

I will be boycotting any restaurant that accepts food stamps or their equivalent

I'd like to add that regardless if fast food restaurants take EBT of not people are still gonna get the same amount of money on their foodstamps, so all of us taxpayers can shutup about that! I get food stamps but I also served my country, I only get $33 dollars a month and I don't feel a damn bit sorry for it!

Most of the homeless are not obese so the food choices you mention of being bad choices are irrelevant, also why should it be another man's business for another man's cravings, being homeless and out of work is hard enough in this short life. At least let them enjoy their something without hatred bickering complaining folks standing around, if you could you would take the hot meals right out of their hands. How are they suppose to have hot meals? throw out a raw steak on the ground and let it sun cook? Have some Mercy on these people, they don't need you standing around trying to make things harder than they already are. Give to them buy paying taxes from your heart, at least you will be blessed and rewarded one day by God if you believe in him.

Contrary to some comments not all people needing the ebt card "have lots of children". In fact I think it's really a shame that those of us who chose not to have kids that we can't even support are penelized by always being given a hard time when applying for public assistance that we really need to get us through some hard times and back on our feet. Also I really don't see why someone like me who is homeless and has no place to cook or store food cannot walk into a Safeway and buy a good hot bowl of soup or a hot sandwich or a hot cup of tea with my ebt card.

To all of you WHINING about E.B.T. recipients all being leaches, first off, it is administered by the Department of Agriculture. It actually subsidizes FARMERS first by making sure they can sell their product, continute to operate and NOT have to throw FOOD away. It also keeps ALOT of grocery stores open. (We found out how much lately in South Carolina when the electronic system crashed and no one could use EBT for about 24 hours just last week). I know of a man who was a member of the working poor who had a sick baby and a pregnant wife who was denied even 50 bux of food help for one month because he was told "electricity was a luxury". SURE, there are the cases with some drunk or druggie getting thousands of dollars of assistance including 500 bux or more EBT a month BUT to those who get 75 to 100, it really means life or death. To all of you who are complaining, I bet you probably work in some desk job where you're completely out-of-touch with the real world. Well you're little safe haven WILL come to an end one day and you'll be needing a little help too. Be careful who you knock!

Some of you people are brutal and heartless. I was earning 75,000/yr then got attacked and my right leg was shattered. It took well over a year to heal and due to that, I lost my job. Health insurance and apartment soon followed when savings ran out.

Job market is horrible and finding work - even after burning through unemployment and a couple extensions - has proven impossible.

I am now on SNAP/Food stamps and - this might be an insight for those of you so lucky to never hit a rough patch in life - but I don't have pots, pans, refrigerator, microwave or stove.

Due to the laws in my state, I also cannot go into a fast food place, sit down and eat for $2-3 - yeah off the value menu. because somebody decided that was not a good idea.

So for now, I eat packaged food that fits in my backpack and try to keep up my appearance so maybe I can find a job

I hope that you all will READ the rules of the program. You have to be elderly or homeless to buy food at these restaurant with an ebt card. You cannot use your ebt at these fast food restaurants if you an able bodied person between 18-49 that is not homeless or elderly. This program has been implemented for people that can't cook or don't have a place to store their food, because of being homeless. The restaurant meals program is for specific people, not everyone on welfare. If you are 65 and older or are homeless, you can receive special authorization from your case worker to use your ebt card at these restaurant that serve hot meals.

When you point 1 finger at a person, 7 fingers will be pointed back at you according to the Holy Bible. If you are perfect go ahead and "CAST AND THROW THE FIRST STONE" you may have everything you need today and wake up tomorrrow to find that all the material things you had are "GONE". You never know what life has in store, do not judge others less you are willing to be heartfully under our Lord and Savoir are willing to be "JUDGED". If you are sooo perfect cast that first stone at your brother or sister in Christ! "SOME PEOPLE" just don't get it. They have not gatten a clue what tomorrow hold's. If you are sleeping in the middle of the night do you know for sure the you will be "RAPPTURED" with our LORD and SAVOIR or will you be left through ignorance BEHIND? You do not know what put a person in the shoes they are walking in until you have walked within those same steps before. People these day's are so fast to put others down even if they are billions aires or penniless. We all neeed to stop and each morning look in the mirrror at ourselves and ask how can we judge another person so severly that we have no clue as to what they have veven beeen through. I smile and and am happy nearly everyday. Many people do not know that four of my family members were grusomely murdered unless I tell them. I am a young cancer survior my mom and dad bother pass away "VERY" early in my life, yet I am "QUICK" tom give you an honest smile because I know I will see them again one day only in a much better place. I've had dreams of this scene and I know "ALMIGHTY GOD IS REAL". People ask me alot why am I so cheerful after all that I have beeen through? I answer, we are only on this erath for a very short while and then we will face the brand new threw beginning as our LORD and Savior "JESUS CHRIS" did. I believe this more than infinity with all of my heart. Therefore I personally, do not judge that is in the hands of "GOD" ONLY...! I LOVE YOU ALL SISTERS AND BROTHERS WHOM CARRY THE SAME BELIEFS I DO AND AlSO TO THOSE WHO DON"T!!!!

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