The Rhode Island SNAP food benefits program was designed to ensure families who are experiencing a time of low income can still eat nutritious and healthy food and provide nourishing meals to family members. Food stamps benefits are issued to qualifying program applicants and can only be used to purchase approved food items at authorized retailers. Along with SNAP benefits, the program provides beneficiaries with education on the importance of eating healthy foods and how to prepare nutritious yet budget-friendly meals. Benefits for food stamps program amounts are not the same for all beneficiaries and depend on many household factors provided on the application and in the interview with a Department of Human Services representative. Upon acceptance into the program, benefits are issued on a benefit card food stamp in RI, also referred to as an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card. To learn more about how the SNAP benefit card works, items approved for purchase and how benefit calculations are determined, review the following information.
Note: Download our guide to the SNAP program for further details on food stamp benefits.
Learn About Food Items You Can Purchase With SNAP in Rhode Island
The goal of the Rhode Island food stamp benefit program is to allow families who are currently struggling financially to provide food for their families and themselves. Therefore, the program has a list of approved items that can be paid for by the food stamp benefit card because they are useful ingredients for preparing meals. Approved items that can be purchased using food stamps benefits in RI include the following:
- Breads, grains and cereals
- Dairy products, including milk, yogurt and cheese
- Fruits and vegetables
- Meat, poultry and fish
SNAP food stamps can also be used to buy seeds or plants that are known to produce items for consumption, such as vegetables, herbs and fruits. While the RI food stamp SNAP program is focused on the health and well-being of beneficiaries and their families, there is no ban on unhealthy food items such as cookies, candy or soft drinks. These food items can be bought using the food stamp SNAP card, but beneficiaries are encouraged to use their monthly benefit allotment to purchase items that contribute to a nutritious diet.
SNAP food stamp benefits can be used at participating grocery stores, farmer’s markets and other retailers that accept the EBT card. Additionally, the RI benefits for food stamps program has begun allowing qualifying restaurants to accept benefit payment for low-cost meals for beneficiaries who are elderly, disabled or homeless. These restaurants and retailers can be identified with stickers of the benefit EBT card logo on their front doors.
Items You Cannot Buy With Rhode Island SNAP Benefits
Non-food items cannot be bought using Rhode Island SNAP food benefits and must be purchased with another form of payment. Household items, pet supplies, toiletries and cosmetics are unapproved items for purchase with food stamp benefits. Additionally, the RI SNAP food stamp card cannot be used to buy the following:
- Alcohol or tobacco products
- Hot items or food that was prepared in store
- Vitamins, supplements and medications
- Live animals or birds
When considering the purchase of energy drinks, only those with a nutrition label instead of a supplement label can be purchased with SNAP food stamps. Gift baskets cannot be bought with a SNAP benefit card if they contain 50 percent or more non-food items. Any baskets or products with alcohol or tobacco products cannot be purchased using benefits.
How Long Does It Take to Receive Rhode Island SNAP Benefits After Enrollment?
Once an application for RI food stamps benefits has been submitted, the Department of Human Services has 30 days to determine eligibility and benefit amounts. After a SNAP benefit application is submitted, the applicant will receive a letter to schedule an in-person or phone interview with a Department of Human Services representative. This interview must be completed as soon as possible so the department can continue analyzing the applicant’s eligibility and benefit amount determination and send food stamp SNAP benefits quickly.
Applicants who need food stamps benefits right away may qualify to receive rushed Rhode Island SNAP food stamps within seven days of applying if they claim high monthly expenses that exceed their household’s income and little to no assets. Applicants who qualify for rushed food stamp program benefits may not be required to complete the interview before receiving the first benefit payment. However, the in-person or phone interview must still be completed in a timely manner to continue receiving benefit payments after the first month.
Rhode Island EBT Card Overview
Rhode Island SNAP benefits can only be accessed by beneficiaries through an EBT card that is sent in the mail upon program enrollment. The food stamp benefit card is activated by new beneficiaries by following the instructions enclosed and creating a personal identification number (PIN) associated with the card. To access RI food stamps, the beneficiary visits an authorized retailer, chooses approved food items and visits the cash register. The benefits recipient can use the benefit card food stamp just like a debit card through the credit card machine, choosing EBT as the payment method and entering his or her PIN upon request. When the transaction is complete, the SNAP food benefits are deducted from the beneficiary’s account. The remaining balance of food stamp benefits is shown on the beneficiary’s receipt or the program enrollee can use the online customer portal to check the account balance.
Learn About Rhode Island SNAP Benefit Amounts
When attempting to calculate the amount of Rhode Island food stamps benefits an approved applicant should receive, the Department of Human Services representative takes into consideration many factors. The household members and composition, earned income, assets and monthly expenses are analyzed to determine the monthly SNAP benefit allotment for the beneficiary. A smaller amount of SNAP food stamp benefits will be awarded to a family with no dependent children and low monthly expenses. A family with many children and an extremely low income will receive a higher amount of monthly SNAP benefits in Rhode Island.