Seniors May Get Tax-Free Restaurant Meals Under Bill Approved By NH Senate

Print More

Paula Tracy photo

The state Senate is pictured applauding visitors from the Monroe Consolidated School.


 CONCORD – Senior citizens who get Meals on Wheels could also get tax-free food vouchers to use at participating restaurants under a bill passed unanimously by the state Senate Thursday.

This bill would eliminate the collection of meals and rooms tax by restaurants participating in the Meals on Wheels bureau of elderly and adult services restaurant voucher program.

Restaurants charge the state $13 for every meal provided through this program, including $1 for taxes, and in round numbers, this charge would become $12 without the tax. The loss in revenue to the state in meals and rooms tax will be made up since Meals on Wheels will ask for grants from the state for this program which will also be $1 less. 

The 8.5 percent rooms and meals tax would be waived under House Bill 1191-FN and allow the seniors a chance to get out for a healthy bite to eat, meet some new friends and help out the restaurant at the same time, advocates said.

“This is by far the most effective way of reducing loneliness and isolation,” said Jon Eriquezzo, president and chief executive officer of Meals on Wheels of Hillsborough County in applauding the bill’s passage.

He testified earlier in the process and now the bill is likely soon headed to the governor’s desk for signing.

Eriquezzo said the three independent restaurants now in the Hillsborough Meals on Wheels Restaurant Voucher Program in its Dine out Club are seeing large influxes of people who can come in for up to eight meals a month. 

The non-profit now gets $8.11 from the state for the meal which costs $13. The difference is made up by either the suggested donation of $4 from those receiving the meal or through donations raised by the charity. 

He said about half of the patrons pay the suggested donation.

Passing the bill, he said, leads to the program’s sustainability and perhaps expansion.

The voucher program is for the state’s population age 60 and over and has no financial requirements nor residency requirements, Eriquezzo said.

The program requires that the meals be healthy and meet nutrition standards, Eriquezzo noted.

Sen. Cindy Rosenwald, D-Nashua, said this Restaurant Voucher Program is part of the Meals on Wheels and is administered by the DHHS with funding for it shared between federal and state sources.

She said the Senate Health and Human Services Committee heard that this part of the program reduces social isolation.

She added it does not make sense for the state to pay rooms and meals tax when the program is already being paid for by the state.

If signed by the governor, the act will take effect July 1, 2024.

Hillsborough Meals on Wheels serves 7,000 meals a month mostly at homes and mostly by volunteers making it the largest Meals On Wheels program in the state.

The state had been doing congregate center reimbursements in a voucher type program for years – mostly at senior centers and churches – but it has been in decline the past decade and exacerbated by the pandemic.

Eriquezzo said when the state said it would be willing to consider a restaurant voucher it has seen exponential growth with the Dine Out Club’s program’s card accepted at three eateries in their program: White Birch Eatery in the Pinardville section of Goffstown, the Village Eatery in Merrimack and Francoeur’s Cafe in Manchester.

Sen. Shannon Chandley, D-Amherst, said the program also helps with food insecurity.

She urged people to support the restaurants who participate in the program and see the good work they do in their communities.

According to HB 1191-FN “This bill exempts meals consumed at or provided by a restaurant, café, or other food service establishments that are part of the restaurant voucher program from the Meals and Rooms Tax. The Department of Health and Human Services, Bureau of Elderly and Adult Services (Department) contracts with agencies to provide congregate and home delivered meals to individuals eligible for Older Americans Act services.”

Eriquezzo said he is hopeful that the Hillsborough program can contract with another restaurant in the Nashua area and one in the western part of their coverage area, like Peterborough and Antrim.

He said he knows of one man who came from Florida and knew no one who now has a group of friends who meet regularly at one of the restaurants and it led to a wedding proposal. He said he can also go into the restaurants and see increases in patrons.

“It’s really been quite a success,” he said.

For more state information on this program designed to help elderly with nutritional needs and socialization visit or contact Maureen Brown at


House Bill 243 also passed which requires the tabulation of votes in elections to be done in public.

Sen. Donna Soucy, D-Manchester, offered an amendment noting some concerns were raised after the hearing about time limits. The Senate passed both the amendment and the bill on a voice vote.

Another bill related to voting passed. House Bill 476 would enable the Secretary of State to conduct a second recount after an election. There was no discussion.

The Senate sent to interim study HB 1146, relative to the removal of a voter from the voting checklist. 

A bill that would allow municipalities to elect rather than appoint members of town and city Conservation Commissions passed though Democrats voted against it on a voice vote.

House Bill 1302 was opposed by Sen. Donna Soucy, D-Manchester. She said these are volunteers and they are not in many cases willing to run for election. In passing it, she said some municipalities could lose some valued people from those Conservation Commissions.

She said there are no problems that the bill is solving.


A bill which would reduce from nine to five the number of members of the state’s Site Evaluation Committee, which approves renewable energy projects, passed. 

House Bill 609-FN now heads to the Finance Committee but has already passed the House.


A bill which exempts nationally credentialed animal chiropractors from further accreditation passed.

Such animal chiropractors are less expensive than veterinary appointments and could relieve pain more quickly as getting an appointment for veterinarians can take time, said Sen. Carrie Gendreau R-Littleton. 


A bill which would require an official declaration of war for the activation of the New Hampshire National Guard was sent to interim study.

Sen. Lou D’Allesandro, D-Manchester, said the hearing on it was among the most interesting he has heard.

Gov. Chris Sununu, a Republican, is ordering members to the border with Texas to help that governor with immigration and it has been questioned by some, including Democrats.


House Bill 1088 which would enable schools to maintain a supply of epinephrine auto-injectors to reverse sometimes fatal allergic reactions passed.

It also passed HB 1171 to continue study on environmentally triggered illnesses from PFAS exposure to cyanobacteria and lead poisoning.


A bill which establishes a commission to study revenue alternatives to the road toll, road toll registration charges passed.


House Bill 1550 which would create enabling legislation to allow communities to reduce speed limits seasonally passed. Soucy said it is important for a number of tourist communities.

Comments are closed.