The Hawai‘i Restaurant Card (HRC) will begin arriving in mailboxes of qualified residents this week, beginning October 16, kicking off the initiative of infusing $75 million in Federal CARES Act funds into the local economy.

The HRC Program provides Hawai‘i residents who filed an initial claim for Unemployment Insurance benefits beginning March 1 or thereafter and continue to meet additional CARES Act fund eligibility requirements with a preloaded, prepaid debit Mastercard® with $500 for use at restaurants, eating establishments, bakeries and food caterers throughout Hawai‘i. Qualified individuals will automatically receive the card and have through December 15 to expend the funds. There is no sign up required. The use of the Hawai‘i Restaurant Card will not impact SNAP and Medicaid benefits or eligibility.

“From the moment the Hawai‘i Restaurant Card Program was announced by the Governor on September 30, the anticipation and feedback we have received has been overwhelming,” said Mike McCartney, director of the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism. “This program will provide economic relief to thousands of local businesses and individuals statewide who are being negatively affected by the pandemic. It will rapidly infuse much needed capital into one of our hardest hit industries, local restaurants, and support those who are unable to work by keeping families from going hungry.”

The HRC Program is a public-private partnership between the State of Hawai‘i Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT), Chamber of Commerce Hawai‘i (The Chamber), the Hawai‘i Restaurant Association and the Hawai‘i Agricultural Foundation. The program, which came into fruition after Kurt Osaki of Osaki Creative Group shared this innovative idea modeled after a program in London, will result in far reaching economic benefits beyond restaurants, including the restaurant industry supply chain, farmers, ranchers, fisherman, produce suppliers, supply companies and more.

The Hawai‘i Restaurant Card can be used statewide at restaurants, eateries, bakeries and food caterers that accept Debit Mastercard®. The card is supported by Money Network from First Data, now Fiserv, and provides consumer protections available to traditional bank account owners including protections against fraud, loss and other errors. The card can only be used for food and non-alcoholic beverage purchases. The card will not be accepted at grocery or convenience stores or for grab-and-go prepared meals.

“As soon as qualified recipients receive their Hawai‘i Restaurant Card in the mail, the activation process is quick and easy, and we encourage them to start using the card immediately,” said Rich Wacker, president & CEO of American Savings Bank and a member of the Hawaii Business Roundtable, who along with The Chamber, saw a need for this economic relief program, and has been facilitating the card aspect of the program. “The website HawaiiRestaurantCard.com provides cardholders with a useful resource to manage their balance, discover specials and deals being offered, and get answers to the most common questions they may have about the program.”

To learn everything you need to know about the Hawai‘i Restaurant Card Program, visit the program’s website at www.HawaiiRestaurantCard.com. For questions related to your Card balance, you can register online as a new user or call Customer Service toll free at 1-800-352-5202.