In Rhode Island, under the Department of Human Services, you can find the Food Assistance Program known as SNAP, or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which was formerly named food stamps. This is the program that can help individuals and families experiencing financial need buy food for their household. Low-income families experience the most stress when it comes to paying bills and managing budgets. Food stamps are a way to supplement income and make the budget stretch farther, though it does not cover all necessities. With SNAP, aid recipients are able to provide a healthier meal for their families and partake in nutritional instruction. The focus of the program is on helping low-income families achieve better diets. To receive SNAP, you can be unemployed or working, preparing for work, receiving a pension or homeless in the state of Rhode Island. Aid is distributed monthly through an EBT card, which is used like a debit card at grocery stores and super markets. The EBT card allows you to purchase food that is on an approved list by the USDA, which normally includes dairy and meat product items, though you can consult the Rhode Island Department of Human Services website for more information. To be eligible for benefits, you must first apply and pass income and resource tests that are conducted by a caseworker.
Applying for Food Stamps
You can apply for food stamps online by clicking here and filling out the application with your information. You need to supply some basic information about yourself, including your name, income and asset information, as well as a social security number. You also need to know the name, birth dates and social security numbers of all those who live in the household with you. You can also print a SNAP application by clicking here. Once you finish the application, you can schedule an appointment with a local DHS office or a community action program to turn in the form and proceed with an interview. You can find a listing of all the offices located here. You may also inquire from the Community Action Program list about how to apply or what you need to apply. For the interview, you will need an identification, such as a driver's license or birth certificate, you will also need proof of the past month's income, proof of the past month's housing and utility expenses, proof of expenses such as day care or medical care, proof of assets such as bank accounts and documentation of citizenship status. During the interview, you should have all of your information. You may also choose to do the interview by phone or in person. If you choose to do the interview by phone, you have to contact the DHS office after you submit an application.
Receiving Food Stamps
To receive benefits, you have to pass certain eligibility criteria. Most of this is based upon how much you earn per month. Many individuals believe that they are at the poverty level, but they may still not qualify, such as a student, worker on strike or non-U.S. citizen. However, each of these cases are different and you can talk to a caseworker about your financial needs if you feel that you fall between the lines. In most cases, you cannot make more than $2,000 a month for a family of four, and you cannot have assets over $2,000. Your asset limits may grow higher if you live with an elderly person or disabled individual. Once you are approved, you will receive a letter within 30 days stating what your benefit amount is and when you can expect the amount each month. Your funds will be electronically deposited on an EBT card which will also be sent to your home. You can bring the EBT card into any grocery store and use it like a debit card to purchase food items.
Finding Food Service Locations
SNAP is the federal name for the food assistance programs. Every state has multiple SNAP locations. In fact, every county should have multiple locations where you can use your card. You can find specific locations near you using the SNAP retailer locator on the federal website. For questions about the food stamp program or to inquire about other forms, you can contact a local DHS office by looking at a listing of offices here or by calling (401) 462-5300.