Raised ceiling, product list… What’s changing with food stamps
New rules for the four million employees who benefit from food stamps. From August 18, it is now possible to buy something other than so-called “immediate consumption” products with this means of payment. Behind this somewhat obscure qualifier is a list of foods you are entitled to pay for with your restaurant vouchers when you shop at the supermarket. This is, for example, a sandwich, salad, dairy products, but also frozen or reheated meals, as well as fruits and vegetables.
But for nearly two weeks, products “that are not consumed directly” such as a bag of rice and pasta, eggs or even unprocessed meat and fish have entered the list. A change that the legislature—in this case, the Senate behind the amendment—allowed in order to improve the purchasing power of the French. “This is a pretext, teases Charlie Bellison, who represents Umih, a trade and hospitality union, within the National Commission for Restaurant Vouchers (CNTR), which opposes this development. Where is the purchasing power in this text? Rather, it is about satisfying the lobbying of the big traders. This is a real kick in the back. We’ve worked on a charter for years with major retailers to define the products that are accepted on the restaurant voucher, and one amendment wipes it all out. »
The cap increase still needs to be validated
It must be said that for restaurateurs, this expansion could be synonymous with a reduction in meal vouchers spent at their establishment. “We have contacted Bruno Le Maire’s office to review this amendment,” the restaurateur continues. Despite our interventions, we were told there was nothing he could do. The text has been voted. Small consolation for restaurateurs, this extension for products “not to be consumed directly” is limited in time. It is allowed until December 31, 2023.
Another change is to increase the daily cap on the use of restaurant vouchers, that is, the maximum amount an employee can pay per day with restaurant vouchers. This was a verbal promise from Bruno Le Maire, the economy minister. Currently at €19, it has already doubled during the pandemic to reach €38 before returning to its original cap on July 1. That cap increase, then, had two purposes: to more quickly liquidate the stockpile of food stamps — which have a limited life — accumulated by employees due to health restrictions. But also to increase consumption in restaurants that have suffered from closures. If this measure does not increase employees’ purchasing power, it allows them to more easily pay for their meals with meal vouchers while prices, especially of food items, rise.
The new ceiling proposed by Bersi’s tenant will be €25 this time. The measure must be approved in early September at a meeting of the National Restaurant Voucher Commission. “Even if we wanted more, I don’t think there would be any resistance,” Charlie Bellison said. This new limit is then due to take effect on October 1st. Therefore, on that date every day the employee will be able to pay for their meals with meal vouchers up to 25 euros instead of 19 euros today.