The Rhode Island SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), commonly known as food stamps, is a government program working in tandem with local food providers and food banks to provide access to food for those experiencing food insecurity. With news of COVID unemployment benefits expiring many Rhode Islanders are facing uncertainty in how to afford food and supplies to take care of themselves and their family. SNAP is an expansive program, much like unemployment, and is just as simple to apply for and determine eligibility. In the 2018 fiscal year, 39.7 million people qualified in an average month. In the previous three months, this safety net has grown in proportion to the needs of unemployed workers and their families. The USDA is preparing for a rise in applications and is maximizing payments as COVID unemployment expires at the end of the month.
How can I apply in RI?
The application process is simple and is listed as follows on the RI Department of Human Services webpage:
➀ apply online, by mail, or in person
➁ meet certain eligibility requirements
➂ provide the required documentation
➃ have an interview with the department
Eligibility is determined by a handful of factors like family size, work, and income. Even if you are unemployed or currently enrolled in school or feel you may not be eligible otherwise we encourage you to take the opportunity to apply as exceptions are common. You will need your SSN, any health insurance information if you have it, Income and tax information (such as previous tax returns, pay stubs, W-2 forms, 1099 forms, unemployment benefits, etc.), and your immigration or citizenship information. After you have applied you will have a simple interview with a DHS worker and will have to send documentation through the mail. Your EBT card will be mailed to you soon after you are approved.
SNAP can be used in almost every establishment which sells grocery items. Supermarkets, convenience stores, and in RI even our farmers markets are eligible for SNAP. Your EBT card will cover costs up to the amount you are eligible for to purchase any food items from your local grocery store. We recommend making a safe trip to the farmers market as Farm Fresh RI has integrated a Bonus Bucks offer – a 100% match on any purchase, effectively doubling your buying power for groceries. If you are in need of food immediately or know anyone who is we always suggest visiting the RI Community Food Bank website to find out about the locations of their food pantries and affiliated organizations at https://rifoodbank.org/.