HONOLULU — Gov. David Ige clarified eligibility for a $500 restaurant card and how the state came to that conclusion after the state found out there was much confusion on social media recently.
“We have additional good news,” Ige said in a press conference yesterday. “I know there have been some questions about SNAP (food stamps) and Medicaid recipients who will receive a Hawai’i restaurant card. If it will affect their benefits or their eligibility? We have confirmed this one-time benefit will not impact the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or Medicaid benefits or eligibility or status in any way.”
Ige said over 116,000 cards have been mailed to Unemployment Insurance (UI) claimants who qualified by their UI claims being processed in September. They should receive it as early as Friday, Oct. 16.
While this restaurant card program was funded $75 million using the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, not everyone that applied for Unemployment would receive it.
Gwen Yamamoto Lau, DBEDT’s administer confirmed that another 30,000 cards will be mailed out to Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) claimants whose claims were processed in September, once the department gets a hold of that separate data.
“They have to have been eligible for unemployment insurance compensation during the month of September in order to get the card,” Lau said.
Ige said the program will run Oct. 16 through Dec. 15, injecting on average $1.2 million into the local economy each day, over the 60 day period.
“First, it will immediately drive business to the struggling restaurant industry,” Ige said. “Second, it will stimulate the economic activity of the state’s entire food supply chain, including local farmers, fishermen, ranchers, producers, and distributors. And finally, it will provide direct assistance to unemployed residents who have been negatively impacted by COVID-19 and provide delicious meals for their family.”
The state program selected the restaurant industry because it was one of the industries hit the hardest by COVID-19.
“We have heard many of our businesses have been impacted,” said Sherry Menor-McNamara from Chamber of Commerce Hawai’i. “In fact, according to the Hawai’i Restaurant Association, more than 65 % of restaurants cannot survive in the next six months. You can see this program comes at a pivotal and critical time for our local restaurant industry.”
Hawai’i Restaurant Association confirmed there are over 4,000 restaurants who qualify to be apart of this program, they can learn how at hawaiirestaurant.org.
To see if you are eligible to receive the restaurant card go to https://myrestaurantcard.hawaii.gov/login.