Rhode Island

Assistance Programs, Local Agencies and Charities

Food  Housing  Cash Assistance  Bills  Health  Education  Employment



  • Rhode Island Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)  – Monthly food stamp benefits to help low-income people and families buy the food they need for good health, Call: 401-462-5300
  • Rhode Island General Public Assistance (GPA) Program Helps eligible persons age 19-64 years of age who have very limited income and resources and have an illness or medical condition that keeps them from working, Call: 401-462-5300
  • Rhode Island Works (RIW) Program  – Provides cash as a temporary financial assistance for qualifying pregnant women and families with one or more dependent childrenCall: 401-462-5300
  • Rhode Island Telephone Assistance Program (Lifeline) – Offers discounts on basic monthly service for qualified telephone customers, Call: 401-941-4500
  • Rhode Island Medicaid  – A health insurance program that provides medical and health-related services to eligible Rhode Island residents, Call: 401-462-5300
  • Rhode Island RIte Care Program – Offers health care coverage to all eligible children for that program living in Rhode Island, Call: 401-462-5300
  • Rhode Island Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP)  – Subsidizes the cost of child care for qualifying families that are residents of Rhode Island, Call: 401-739-6100
  • Rhode Island Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)  – Healthy foods, breastfeeding support, nutrition education, health care referrals, Call: 401-222-5960
  • Rhode Island National School Lunch Program (NSLP)  Provides low-cost or free lunches to school children, Call: 401-222-8936
  • Rhode Island Special Milk Program  – Offers milk to children in schools, childcare institutions, and eligible camps, Call: 401-222-8936
  • Rhode Island School Breakfast Program (SBP)  Provides low-cost or free meals to school children, Call: 401-222-8936
  • Rhode Island Summer Food Service Program (SFSP)  – Provides free meals and snacks to help low-income children in the summer months, Call: 401-222-8936
  • Rhode Island Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP)  Provides healthy meals and snacks to children and adults receiving day care, Call: 401-222-8936
  • Rhode Island Head Start  – Comprehensive child development programs serving low-income children and their familiesCall: 401-943-5160
  • Rhode Island Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) Designed to help income eligible Rhode Island families pay their heating bills, Call: Local Agency
  • Rhode Island Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) – Assists income eligible households reduce heating bills by providing whole house energy efficiency services to households that already quality for HEAP, Call: Local Agency
  • Rhode Island Housing Choice Voucher Program  – Helps eligible low-income households lease privately owned rental units from participating landlords, Call: Local PHA
  • Rhode Island Public Housing  – Provides safe, decent, and affordable rental units for eligible low-income residents., Call: Local PHA

Homeowners Assistance and Housing Programs

Rhode Island – Making Home Affordable options

Making Home Affordable is a federal program designed to cover different homeowners’ hardships and financial situations. Under the program there are various options that can help Rhode Island homeowners in hardship stay in their homes. Depending on the situation Rhode Island homeowners in hardship can apply to lower their monthly payments, lower the interest rate on their home loan or even get principal reduction in some cases.

There are foreclosure alternatives and temporarily help for unemployed homeowners as well.

Here are some of the most used options under Making Home Affordable Program:

HUD (US Department of Housing and Urban Development) approved housing counselor can be reached at: 888-995-4673  (Hearing impaired: 877-304-9709 TTY) to help you understand your options, prepare your application, and work with your mortgage company.


Food Assistance Programs, Services, and Organizations in Rhode Island


Rhode Island Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or the Food Stamps Program as it is known by the public, is a federal program that provides grants to the States for purpose of reducing the hunger and malnutrition in all eligible households across the nation. SNAP helps provide healthy food to qualifying low-income families with children, elderly or disabled in each State of the USA, including Rhode Island. SNAP also provides education about nutrition to help recipients choose foods that enhance their health and well being.

It is important to know that the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is a federal entitlement program funded by U.S. Government grants. Any U.S. Citizen, even some legal alien residents, will get free food assistance as long as they meet the SNAP eligibility guidelines. In other words, there is enough Supplemental Nutrition Assistance for every American that qualifies. Learn more about SNAP.

In Rhode Island the SNAP is administered by the Department of Human Services (DHS). The  SNAP eligibility determination and benefits issuance are provided by the DHS and its offices across the state. The Federal Government oversees the State operation and pays 100% of Rhode Island SNAP Benefits with federal grants appropriated for SNAP. The SNAP federal grants also pay a share of the Rhode Island SNAP administrative cost.

The main purpose of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is to help end hunger and improve nutrition and health of low income households. The SNAP provides monthly benefits to low-income Rhode Island households that help them buy the food needed for a nutritionally adequate diet.

According to the Rhode Island DHS, “The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) can help individuals and families buy food.  If you are working but are still struggling financially to buy food and provide nutritious meals, maybe the SNAP Program can help. You do not need to be participating in other DHS programs to receive SNAP benefits (food stamps). You can be unemployed or working, preparing for work, receiving a pension or homeless.”


Who is Eligible for SNAP Benefits (Food Stamps) in Rhode Island?

The eligibility rules and benefit amounts in Rhode Island, like in other States, are based on limited income, limited liquid resources, household size, and other requirements. Most eligibility rules are determined by regulations issued by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Food and Nutrition Service.

The federal law allows States some flexibility when implementing SNAP on a State level. State agencies can adapt some of the SNAP food assistance program rules in order to meet the needs of eligible, low‐income local population.

Rhode Island Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is designed for individuals and families with limited income resources, who compose a household, and purchase and prepare their meals together for home consumption.

For the purpose of the SNAP, certain people must be included in one household account even if they purchase and prepare meals separately. Husbands and wives of any household member, their children under age 22 when living together, plus children younger than 18 who are dependents of an adult household member are all considered as a part of one household formation.

In Rhode Island anyone with limited income and resources may apply for food stamps but, in general, to qualify for Rhode Island SNAP Benefits you must meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • Rhode Island Resident – must be a U.S. Citizen or a legal resident with SNAP eligible non-citizen status;
  • Income Limits –  Income limits eligibility depends on the household size and composition, and are based on the current federal poverty levels (FPL). Most Rhode Island residents may be automatically or so called categorically eligible for SNAP Benefits if they already participate in other means tested assistance programs. Getting any benefits or services (e.g. getting pamphlet, brochure, or publication) from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) federal block grant program or receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) can make the applicant for SNAP categorically eligible, thus bypassing the federal guidelines for standard limits on income and assets. Households determined categorically eligible for SNAP must have gross income at or below 185% the federal poverty level (FPL) to qualify for benefits. If the household has a member who is over age 59 or disabled, the gross income must be at or below 200% of the federal poverty level. Gross income includes wages, salaries, commissions, dividends, child support, self-employment income, unemployment compensation, social security benefits and others. This dollar amount depends on the number of people in your household. Contact Rhode Island Department of Human Services at 401-462-5300 for more on SNAP eligibility.
    See the table with Rhode Island food stamp income limits per household size below.
Oct. 1, 2015 through Sept. 30, 2016 USDA FNS SNAP Max Income
Household SizeGross Monthly Income
200% of poverty
Gross Monthly Income
185% of poverty
Net Monthly Income
100 % of poverty
Each additional member+$694+$642+$347

Source: USDA, SNAP Income Eligibility Standards


Quick Eligibility Check

Use this Pre-Screening Eligibility Tool to find out if you may be eligible to get Rhode Island SNAP Benefits (Food Stamps).

The screening allows interested in getting Rhode Island food stamps to provide some basic information and find out if they are potentially eligible for benefits.

If you use this Pre-Screening Tool you will be notified immediately on the screen if you qualify after completing the questionnaire. This is a pre-screening information, and you still have to make an application at your local Rhode Island DHS office.

Even if you are unsure whether you would qualify you still may be eligible for SNAP Benefits and you should still apply.

The Department of Human Services is the agency in Rhode Island that can make final determination regarding your SNAP application in this State and grant you benefits.


What are the Dollar Amounts of Rhode Island SNAP Benefits?

If the applicant is approved, the Rhode Island Food Stamp Benefit amounts depend on the household size and the amount of the their net income. USDA has maximum food stamp benefit limits per month per household size. Check below what are the maximum food stamp assistance monetary amounts. The food assistance dollar amounts are called allotments.

Oct. 1, 2015 - Sept. 30, 2016 USDA Max SNAP Allotments
Household SizeMaximum Food Assistance Monthly Allotment
Each additional member$146

Source: USDA, SNAP Maximum Allotments


How to Apply for SNAP Benefits (Food Stamps) in Rhode Island?

To apply for SNAP benefits in Rhode Island download and print the “SNAP Application” form offered by Rhode Island Department of Human Services website.

Applicants for SNAP in State of Rhode Island can file an application in person, through an authorized representative, by fax, by mail, or online. The SNAP application may be submitted to any Rhode Island local DHS Office.

If you are to file a paper form  – just fill out all required information on the SNAP Application and mail or turn it in any local DHS Office.

If you do not have all the information that is needed to complete the SNAP application, provide as much as you can – but you must include your name, address, social security number, and your signature for the DHS office to accept it. All required information and its verification can be provided later at the interview or upon request.

If you are eligible, your SNAP Benefits will start from the date the DHS receives your application. However, if you provide more information, it will help DHS determine your eligibility more quickly.

The application process includes an SNAP eligibility interview and information verification. After you have submitted your application, the DHS office will contact you to set up an interview and verify the information on your application. If you are elderly, disabled individual, or unable to go to the office due to a hardship, call the DHS to request your SNAP eligibility interview conducted over the phone.

At the interview, you will meet with a DHS caseworker who will go over the information on your application and verify the required supporting documentation and proofs. You will also receive information from the worker or other staff about job requirements/opportunities and your responsibilities.

Within 30 days of the interview, if eligible, you will receive a notice stating how much food assistance benefit and for how long your household is eligible for before a review of the case is due, along with reporting requirements.

The SNAP benefit amount depends on the household size and its net income – that is all countable income minus all allowable deductions.

If Rhode Island DHS finds you eligible for SNAP benefits, you will be entitled to receive food stamps from the date your signed application was received.

Rhode Island SNAP applicants also have the option to apply for SNAP benefits online using the Rhode Island DHS Online Application System that enables users to apply and manage their benefits online.


Rhode Island SNAP Benefits Verification of Information, Rules, Approval

The DHS Office has to interview you and verify provided information before determining if the household is eligible for SNAP Benefits.

Rhode Island Department of Human Services lists examples of information that may need to be provided/proved at the interview.

  • Identification:
    • Passport or Certificate of Naturalization;
    • Driver’s license;
    • Birth certificate;
    • Voter registration card;
    • Military ID card;
    • RI state ID card;
    • Work or School ID card;
    • Health benefit card or a library card.
  • A Social Security number for all household members applying for benefits is required.
  • Immigration status if non-citizen – proof of immigration status is required and sponsorship information may be needed.
  • Residency – one document indicating current address (i.e. utility bill, bank statement, etc.)
  • Earned Income:
    • Most recent pay stubs including tips and commissions if applicable, or;
    • Letter from you employer showing gross income and hours worked.
  • Unearned Income:
    • Most recent copy of Social Security award letter;
    • Proof of unemployment;
    • Worker’s Compensation;
    • Pension;
    • Child support;
    • Alimony;
    • Rental income;
    • Dividends or any interest income;
    • Adoption subsidy;
    • Foster care income;
    • Out of state assistance.
  • Student Income – An applicant may be required to provide verification of educational (LOAN / GRANT / SCHOLARSHIP) expenses including, but not limited to, tuition and fees.
  • Resources – In some cases resources may apply. They include verification of liquid resources, bank statements, stock and bond certificates and proof of property ownership. Vehicle registration may be required.
  • Shelter costs:
    • Rent receipt;
    • Mortgage payment statement;
    • Rent or lease agreement;
    • Statement from HUD;
    • Statement from person who shares shelter costs;
    • Utility bills;
    • Statement from utility company;
    • Statement from landlord.
  • Medical expenses – Individuals with a disability or age 60 or above: medical costs including, medical bills NOT REIMBURSED, prescription costs, Medicare card showing “Part-B” and “Part-D” coverage.
  • Child support paid – A copy of the court order and proof of the amount paid, such as a canceled check or a written statement.
  • Dependent care expenses – Receipt showing your out-of-pocket child/adult care expenses.

This is not a complete list and depending on case the DHS caseworker may request additional types of proof and application supporting documents.

Applicants for SNAP benefits in Rhode Island should get a response within 30 days from the date they submitted their application to the DHS office. When start getting food stamps benefits, households must report any changes of their situation in a set period of time in order to assure their participation in the Rhode Island Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

Under the simplified reporting option, households are required to report changes in income between certification and scheduled reporting periods.

SNAP regulations require all non‐exempt household members to comply with work requirements. Work requirements include registering for work, not voluntarily quitting a job, and accepting a suitable employment offer. As per federal SNAP guidelines, individuals who fail to comply with SNAP work requirements without good cause are ineligible for program benefits and disqualified from SNAP for certain periods of time, depending on how many prior instances of non‐compliance there have been.

As part of the SNAP federal grant assistance requirements, each State has to offer employment and training (E&T) program to its SNAP benefits recipients. Participants in such programs, where available, can get adult education, vocational training, job skills training for specific jobs, and work experience via short-term unpaid work assignments.

The main goal of the work requirement is to help the food stamp recipients get jobs, reduce or eliminate their dependency on the government benefits.

In Rhode Island the DHS can help assisting and directing persons in E&T activities which enable them to achieve or maintain economic self support. Registration for E&T, employment related evaluations and assessment, counseling, job developing, and job placement are areas where Rhode Island SNAP beneficiaries can get help.


Approved! When and How Do I Get the Food Stamp Benefits?

Rhode Island SNAP provides the food assistance benefits via the Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) system. The monetary benefits of Rhode Island SNAP are transferred to the accounts of qualified beneficiaries and are accessible through Rhode Island EBT Card.

Benefits are made available on the first day of every month.

If you have any question regarding your EBT Account or EBT Card call Rhode Island EBT Customer Service: 1-888-979-9939


How and Where to Use the Food Stamp Benefits?

When approved, Rhode Island SNAP beneficiaries will get Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards. The monetary benefits of the Rhode Island SNAP are transferred into the accounts of qualified beneficiaries and are accessible through Rhode Island EBT Cards. Households and individuals can use their EBT cards and spend the benefits like cash at any Rhode Island grocery stores and farmers’ markets that are authorized by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to accept SNAP (food stamp) benefits.

Check this list of Rhode Island SNAP participating stores that are authorized to take EBT cards for purchasing of SNAP eligible food items. Eligible food items are any food to be eaten at home by people, including baby food, non-alcoholic beverages, and seasonings. Seeds and plants to grow food for your own family’s consumption are also allowed to be purchased with food stamp benefits. You cannot buy non-grocery items with food stamp benefits, such as cleaning products, pet food, paper products, alcohol, or tobacco.


I Need Food Assistance Now. It is an Emergency!

Some households may get Expedited Services – that is getting Food Assistance Benefits within 7 calendar days if your household has less than $150 in monthly gross income and liquid resources (cash, checking or savings accounts) of $100 or less; or your rent/mortgage and utilities are more than your household’s combined monthly income and liquid resources; or a member of your household is a migrant or seasonal farm worker. In order to get expedite assistance, if you qualify, provide all required information and proof as soon as possible. Call 1-401-462-5300 for more information on Rhode Island Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.