Restaurant Card Program boost Hawai‘i’s economy

HONOLULU — The Hawai‘i Restaurant Card (HRC) Program established and distributed to the unemployed back in Mid-October by the state’s Economic Relief program came to an end on Dec. 15, 2020, and the program administrator recently reported on how it contributed to Hawai’i’s economy.

The debit restaurant cards were valued at $500 each and the goal of the card was to support buying local statewide to boost the food industry because so many restaurants were struggling to stay open.

Program Administrator Gwen Yamamoto Lau confirmed that 148,576 cards were issued to those unemployed and $69,982,631 dollars were spent on different eateries which also trickled into other food businesses.

“Over the past two months, the Hawai‘i Restaurant Card (HRC) Program supported over 4,200 Hawaii restaurants, fast food establishments, bakeries, food caterers, farmers, fisherman and suppliers,” Lau said.

It has generated over 1,770,000 Hawai‘i Restaurant Card transactions, which resulted in an Economic Multiplier Output for the State of $151,233,083 dollars.

The State Tax Revenue Generated $8,858,929 dollars while the program has created and retained jobs by assisting 142,504 eligible displaced workers statewide.

Lau said the administrative overhead of this program was less than 1%. This means over 99% of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act funds allocated for this program benefited the intended beneficiaries.

Lastly, according to Lau, some $5 million dollars of unused balances were taken from the cards on Dec. 16 and has been applied to the Unemployment Insurance loan.

“While the unfortunate reality is that the restaurant industry and its supply chain also saw a number of business closures, we’ve received an overwhelming response from restaurateurs, employees, customers, vendors and the community that the Hawai‘i Restaurant Card Program alleviated a lot of concern and apprehension during a time of uncertainty brought on by this pandemic,” Lau said. “So really, this program not only proved economic success for the restaurant industry and its supply chain but provided hope for the industry going into 2021.”

  1. Reality Bites January 1, 2021 5:27 am Reply

    “Restaurant Card Program boost Hawai‘i’s economy”

    Tomorrow’s article: “Kauai’s taxpayer money goes to area restaurants”

    There is no free lunch in life. Someone pays = the taxpayer

  2. randy kansas January 1, 2021 7:30 am Reply

    How can the state tax revenue have been increased, when the original money was paid with taxes to begin with?

    any government, does not have anything that it has not already taken from someone else;

  3. John Fraser January 1, 2021 9:58 am Reply

    Money would be better spent if used to buy food directly from grocery stores and the like. The price of restaurant food is much greater than the value of the food itself since the price is inflated by preparation and the restaurant’s desire for profit. When purchasing from a restaurant, the state’s money is going more to the restaurants and not so much to the people who need the food and can prepare it themselves at home. The state is not obligated to support restaurants as such but primarily to the citizens.

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