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How to Apply for Food Stamps in Rhode Island Online

To apply for food stamps in Rhode Island, you have to meet the eligibility requirements that are established by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). In this post, we will review the application process in detail and what you need to submit a successful application for food stamps in Rhode Island. You will learn about the eligibility requirements, income limit, how much you will get in food stamps if approved, and what happens after you apply.

This post will cover:

Overview of the Food Stamps Program

How Much You Could Receive In Food Stamps

Rhode Island Food Stamps Eligibility Requirements

How to Apply for Food Stamps in Rhode Island

What Happens After You Apply

"How to Apply for Food Stamps in Rhode Island"

About Food Stamps Program

The SNAP Benefits program, also known as food stamps offers nutrition assistance to millions of eligible, low- and no-income individuals and families living in the United States.

The program is administered by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The states are responsible for distributing benefits at the local level. 

The food stamps program is the largest economic assistance program offered by the federal government to fight hunger and provide nutrition assistance. 

In 2016, the government spent $70.9 billion on the program, helping roughly 44.2 million Americans (14% of the population).

Who Can Apply for Food Stamps

The food stamps program was created to help stop hunger and to improve nutrition and health of those on low income.

The program helps people with limited money buy the food they need for good health. This includes individuals who:

  • Have a job but have low income
  • Are living on a small or fixed income
  • Have lost their job
  • Are retired or disabled and not able to work

How Much In Food Stamps Will I Receive?

The amount of food stamps benefits you will receive if approved is based on your household size and countable income after all deductions are applied.

Keep in mind that households with an elderly or disabled person are given special consideration.

The table below shows the maximum amount you could receive depending on the number of people in your household.

"How much in food stamps will I receive in Rhode Island?"

What Can I Buy with Food Stamps?

There are strict requirements about what you can and cannot purchase with food stamps.

Generally, food stamps benefits may only be used to purchase food for human consumption and seeds/plants to grow food at home.

Food Stamp benefits cannot be used for: household items, grooming products, tobacco, alcohol products, pet food, etc. Here are the allowed food items:

You can use your benefits to buy foods such as:

  • Breads and cereals.
  • Fruits and vegetables.
  • Meats, fish, and poultry.
  • Dairy products.
  • Seeds and plants to grow food for your family to eat.

You cannot use your benefits to buy:

  • Non Food items (pet foods, paper products, soaps,
  • household supplies, grooming items, toothpaste, cosmetics, etc.).
  • Beer, wine, liquor, cigarettes, or tobacco.
  • Food that will be eaten in the store.
  • Hot foods (food cooked and served hot at the store).
  • Vitamins and medicines.

Rhode Island Food Stamps Program

The Rhode Island food stamps program is run by the Department of Health and Human Resources’ Bureau for Children and Families.

To get approved for Rhode Island food stamps, you have to go through four steps:

  1. You have to submit an application online, by mail, or in person.
  2. To be approved, you have to meet certain eligibility requirements as detailed below.
  3. You have to provide documentation to verify the information provided in your application.
  4. After your application is submitted, you will be invited for an interview at the Department of Human Services.

We are going to describe in detail what you need to successfully apply for food stamps in Rhode Island. 

Rhode Island Food Stamp Eligibility Requirements

To apply for food stamps in Rhode Island, you have to meet the eligibility requirements listed below.

Of all the requirements, the income limit is the biggest factor that determines whether you are approved for benefits.

Make sure you review the income limit to be sure you are eligible before applying. If you determine that you are not eligible, there may be other nutrition assistance program you may be eligible for.

1. Residency

To apply for food stamps in Rhode Island, you must be a resident of the state of Rhode Island.

2. Citizenship

Only United States Citizens and certain categories of lawfully admitted non-citizens can apply for food stamps. See our detailed article on the topic here.

3. Income

If your income (based on your family size) is less than or equal to the amounts in the charts below, you may be eligible for SNAP benefits.

Gross income means a household’s total, non-excluded income, before any deductions have been made such as taxes or other withholdings.

Net income means gross income minus allowable deductions.

"Rhode Island Food Stamps Income Limit"Note that:

  • If your household’s gross income is below these amounts, it does not ensure that you will be eligible for a benefit.
  • A SNAP budget must be calculated for your household in order to determine eligibility and benefit amount.
  • The only way to determine if your household is eligible for SNAP benefits is to apply.

For a detailed post on how to calculate your gross and net income, and documents you will be required to resent to support your food stamps application, click here.

What Counts As Income?

Cash income from all sources, including earned income (before payroll taxes are deducted) and unearned income, such as cash assistance, Social Security, unemployment insurance, and child support are all counted towards your income for food stamps purposes.

Households with an elderly or disabled person are given special consideration, including higher asset limit, are exempted from the gross income test, and are allowed and more excess shelter/utility cost deduction, and medical expenses over $35 per month.

4. Resources

Households may have $2,250 in countable resources (such as cash or money in a bank account) or $3,500 in countable resources if at least one member of the household is age 60 or older, or is disabled.

What Counts as Resources?

Resources that could be available to the household to purchase food, such as amounts in bank accounts.

Items that are not accessible, such as the household’s home, personal property, and retirement savings, do not count. Most automobiles do not count.

How to Apply for Food Stamps In Rhode Island

There are four ways in which you can apply for food stamps in Rhode Island:

"How to Apply for Food Stamps in Rhode Island Online"

1. Apply Online

You can apply for food stamps in Rhode Island online at the DHS RI Website as shown above.

2. Apply Over the Phone

Call Rhode Island Department of Human Services at 1-855-697-4347

3. Print Out the Application and Mail/Fax it In.

You can Download the application and fill it out. 

4. Apply in Person

You can also apply in person at a local DHS office. To find a location near you, click here.

Who Should Complete the Application?

The Rhode Island Food Stamps application should be filled out by you or an adult member of your household, or a relative, friend or authorized representative who knows the financial situation of all household members.

What Happens After You Apply

After you apply for food stamps in Rhode Island, you must complete an interview with a representative of the Department of Human Services (DHS).

The interview will be done by phone unless you request your interview in-person at a local DHS office. 

During the interview, the program representative will verify your documents and will ask you questions that will help establish your eligibility for the program.

If your application is approved, you will start receiving benefits within 30 days after you submitted your application.

How will I Receive Benefits?

"Rhode Island EBT Card"

If you are approved for Rhode Island food stamps, your benefits will be placed on an electronic benefits card (EBT Card) every month. The card is also called RI Works Cash for beneficiaries who also receive cash benefits.

The EBT Card is a permanent card. You will use the same card for as long as you receive foods stamps benefits. 

Your EBT card is how you will pay for the food you buy at approved locations. 

How Long Can I Be on Food Stamps?

There are no limits to how long you can get food stamps if you have children/dependents living in your household or are under age 18 or over age 50.

However, If you are a single, able-bodied adult without dependents in your home, you can only receive food stamps for 3 months in a 36-month period.

Food Stamps Limit for ABAWDs

As mentioned above, there are no limits on how long adults with dependents can receive food stamps.

However, there are limits for Able-Bodied Adults Without Dependents (ABAWDs).

Federal rules, limit food stamps benefits to 3 months in a 36-month period for people age 18 through 49 who are able to work and have no dependents.

Since the great recession, the unemployment rate in Rhode Island has allowed the Department of Human Services to apply to the Federal Government for exemptions to the three month limit for ABAWDs.

However, as of September 1, 2018, ABAWDs in the following towns may be subject to a three-month time limit:

"Rhode Island Food Stamps Work Requirement"

Restaurant Meals Program in RI

The state of Rhode Island participates in the Restaurant Meals Program.

This is a program in select states that allows certain food stamps recipients to use their benefits at approved restaurants. See our detailed article on the topic here.

Who is Eligible for Restaurant Meals Program?

In the state of Rhode Island, the following group of food stamps recipients may apply to the Restaurant Meals Program.

  • Homeless
  • Elderly
  • Disabled
  • Elderly or Disabled

The purpose of the program is to help expand food access to those who do not have a place to store and cook food.

In addition, the program is for those who may not be able to prepare food or who don’t have access to a grocery store.

To apply for the restaurant meals program, contact 1-866-306-0270 or contact your local Department of Human Services (RI DHS) office.

What Restaurants Accept EBT In Rhode Island?

In Rhode Island, select Subway Restaurant Locations have been approved to accept food stamps. Here is the List:

255 Weybossett Street, Providence
2 Kennedy Plaza, Providence
719 Westminster Street, Providence
583 Elmwood Avenue, Providence
962 Cranston Street, Cranston
483 Clinton Street, Woonsocket
104 Broadway Unit 1A, Newport
614 Pawtucket Avenue, Pawtucket
310 Broad Street, Central Falls
258 Post Road, Westerly (Walmart)

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There are four ways you can apply for food stamps in Rhode Island.

To determine your chances of being approved for food stamps, make sure you meet the income and resource eligibility criteria outlined above.

If you are approved for benefits, you will receive an EBT card, which acts like a debit card and allows you to buy approved groceries at approved merchant locations.

If you are elderly, disabled or homeless, you may apply to the Restaurant Meals Program to be approved to use your EBT card to buy food at select subway restaurants in Rhode Island.

We hope this article has been helpful in providing you the information you need to apply for food stamps in Rhode Island.

If you have any specific questions about the application process that have not been addressed in this post or if you would like to share your experience applying for food stamps in Rhode Island, please let us know in the comments section below.

Kwame Kuadey

Kwame Kuadey writes about personal finance and the social safety net. His career started in banking but he caught the entrepreneurial bug and has spent the last decade building successful businesses, including an Inc. 500 Company. Kwame believes everyone has the power to improve their quality of life by seeking knowledge and taking action. In 2012, Kwame founded Empower Media to help low-income households improve their financial situation. His expertise is in topics relevant to low-income households, including government benefits and assistance, banking products, access to credit, plus tools & resources to help reduce income volatility and build wealth. Kwame has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Entrepreneur, Inc. Magazine, Washington Post, ABC, and NPR.



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