Gov. David Ige offers clarity to Restaurant Card Program

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

To see if you are eligible to receive the restaurant card go to

  1. Bruce Rivkin October 15, 2020 9:55 am Reply

    My Unemployment Insurance claim has been put on pending for eighteen weeks now. How about spending money on processing claims rather than having volunteers with the money 💰?

    1. James B October 24, 2020 5:47 pm Reply

      They finally processed my unemployment after pending for 4 months but I don’t get a restaurant card because my pavements didn’t get processed in September, they got processed in October so the system they used to pull eligibility didn’t have me on it since I didn’t get paid in September. Glad I got the unemployment money but I’m still upset that I’m missing out on the $500 card because I should have qualified for that. It’s not my fault that they processed everything after they pulled eligibility for the restaurant card.

  2. RSW October 15, 2020 9:58 am Reply

    Ige: ” ‘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.’ ”

    This is pure nonsense and pandering political theater right before an election. It is a ONE TIME injection of federal handout (state welfare) money (which itself is funded via the printing presses and deficit spending) and will have little long term or lasting impact, except on the national debt.
    All of the struggling businesses are suffering because of Ige & Green’s ham-fisted, panic mode shut down of these entities. Both of these hacks do the two-step to avoid responsibility by the rhetorical game of blaming the virus. These two and the several mayors, are responsible and have been collecting full salary and benefits while thousands of working people and the businesses that used to employ them have been made to suffer.

  3. Everythingisawesome October 15, 2020 10:16 am Reply

    “and provide delicious meals for their family.”

    Actual results may vary.

  4. BNB1994 October 19, 2020 3:31 pm Reply

    “it will provide direct assistance to unemployed residents who have been negatively impacted by COVID-19 and provide delicious meals for their family.” Yet only for the people who were collecting in September? How about everyone that was impacted since the beginning? Some people may have been lucky enough to get back to work, but they were still effected from this pandemic. Anyone that claimed from the beginning should be eligible period.

  5. Afaga Liftee-Foafoa October 20, 2020 12:24 pm Reply

    I don’t understand why I’m not eligible for the restaurant card if my unemployment claim for September is still pending. I honestly think I should still be eligible. I’ve waited a month and it’s still pending. I should still be eligible for the card cause I don’t know how long I would have to wait for my claims to be “processed” .

  6. Chris Miyaji October 21, 2020 9:18 am Reply

    my wife’s UI claims were also “Pending” in September due to the HirenetHawaii registration and resume application it had problems going through UI claims so her September claims were not process until October!! And I just read if your claims were not process in September you will not be getting a card! THIS is so Unfair! and It is not her Fault and not your fault either! everyone should get a card who is on unemployment regardless if their claims were pending in September due to being laid off from their jobs!

  7. Chris Miyaji October 21, 2020 9:24 am Reply

    Hawai‘i residents who opened an initial Unemployment Insurance (“UI”) claim on or after March 1, 2020 with the Hawai‘i Department of Labor and Industrial Relations; certified that their job loss is due to the COVID-19 pandemic; and received UI benefits during the month of September 2020 for the month of September 2020, are eligible for this program. There is no need to apply. click on top FAQ

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