SPRINGFIELD – A bill sponsored by State Senator Omar Aquino (D-Chicago) that would allow specified people to use their SNAP benefits at participating restaurants passed the Senate today.

House Bill 3343 would allow elderly, disabled and homeless people to redeem their SNAP benefits at private establishments that contract with the Department of Human Services.

“When people are homeless and don’t have a kitchen, SNAP benefits do not effectively serve them,” said Aquino. “I want to make sure that our food assistance programs are working for everyone who relies on them, especially for our aging population and people living with a disability.”

Under current law, SNAP benefits can only be used on food items that can be prepared at home. House Bill 3343 opens SNAP benefits to hot food at grocery stores and certain restaurants.

“There is a large intersection between people living with a disability and our aging population, and cooking meals at home becomes increasingly difficult as we grow older,” said Aquino. “I saw firsthand how some of the most vulnerable people had difficulty prepping meals when I worked in the Community Care Program. This measure will give them more independence and dignity by allowing them to have fresh and healthy meal options.”

House Bill 3343 awaits the governor’s signature.