Hawaii sets to issue $500 restaurant cards to unemployed residents

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Hawaii officials have reported that the state will be issuing $500 restaurant cards to residents who are unemployed.

According to the report, $75,000,000 of the CARES Act money is earmarked to fund the program, aimed at stimulating the economy, giving a boost to businesses and keeping local families fed.

If you are unemployed, the state’s newest economic plan is looking to keep money in your bank account, and food in your stomach.

Those qualified residents for unemployment insurance since March 25 and are still receiving benefits will soon be getting the Hawaii Restaurant Card in the mail.

It will come pre-loaded with $500 and it can only be spent at any restaurant in Hawaii.

“According to the UHERO study that evaluated the program, it would nearly double its economic impact for our local businesses,” said Hawaii Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Sherry Menor McNamara.

The card functions like a debit card, allowing residents to use it to pay their restaurant bill and tip, and the total will be taken out of the card’s balance.

That money goes to the restaurant, and with many local farmers providing goods, it should keep supply chains intact.

“We are encouraging restaurants to create their own offers and promotions around the card to drive traffic to their businesses, which will in turn will result in even more money being spent in our economy,” said Hawaii Agricultural Foundation Executive Director Denise Hayashi Yamaguchi.

The Hawaii Restaurant Association called it a win-win situation.

“It will go a long way in terms of making sure that our restaurants stay open, and we keep our restaurant employees, stay employed,” said HRA board member Victor Lim.

Keola Warren, who runs Moke’s Bread & Breakfast in Kaimuki, said that he is excited for the program, but he also wants customers to be mindful of where they use it.

“There’s a lot of businesses that are here locally that are not local businesses, so I hope that people also take that into account,” Warren said.

Officials said that there is no need to apply for the card, but the cards will be coming in the mail in the next couple of weeks to those who qualify.

The debit cards are valid from Oct. 20 to Dec. 15 at 11:59 p.m. or when the card’s funds are exhausted.

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