Skip to main content
waving wheat stalks

SNAP Outreach Project

Helping low-income individuals and families throughout

Rhode Island access nutritional assistance benefits  

Despite the best efforts of anti-hunger volunteers and staff, there are still thousands of Rhode Islanders, many of them children, who experience hunger due to lack of resources for adequate food. This reality means we must find new, even more creative ways to address hunger and poverty in our own neighborhoods.

In 2001, center staff worked with the Rhode Island Department of Human Services to develop the state's first Food Stamp Outreach Plan, which was approved by the US Department of Agriculture. The goal of the Outreach Project is to improve access to and increase participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly Food Stamps, with particular emphasis among populations at nutritional risk, such as the elderly, low-income, homeless and immigrant households. The Hunger Center has managed the Outreach Project since 2001 through an annual contractual agreement with DHS.

Helpful Documents:

Someone You Know


What is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)?

In situations of hunger and poverty, families are faced with limited choices. The single most important federal nutrition program aimed at improving the nutritional intakes of low-income families is SNAP.

SNAP is a government assistance program that provides nutritional assistance to low-income households.  It used to be known as the Food Stamp Program. Benefits supplement the food budgets of families and individuals so they may purchase more and higher quality foods using the EBT (Electronics Benefits Transfer) card.  

The EBT card can be used to pay for food at supermarkets and convenience stores, as well as some farmer’s markets and food co-ops. Each month, benefits are directly deposited into the household's EBT account.

SNAP benefits also provide a subsidy to farmers and increase activity in local grocery stores. In 2008, over $120 million federal dollars entered the Rhode Island economy as people used their SNAP benefits.

Obstacles to Participation

One of the main reasons cited for low participation rates among potentially eligible recipients is lack of awareness of the eligibility criterion. Also, confusion and complexity within the application process have contributed to deterring some individuals from applying for SNAP benefits. There are a number of other contributing factors as well. For example, among elderly populations, lack of information, embarrassment, and perceived low benefits combine to make this an additionally challenging yet important target audience.

As a result, efforts to increase participation have focused on increasing awareness of eligibility among specific populations as well as to develop simple pre-screening tools that might facilitate the process of determining eligibility. It has been found that people who believe that they are eligible to receive benefits will be more likely to complete an application than those who believe that they are not eligible.


Why SNAP Outreach?

While many Rhode Islanders take advantage of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, thousands of our neighbors are unaware of their eligibility or need help in order to access benefits.

The goal of the SNAP Outreach Project is to increase participation through trainings, application assistance, distribution of educational materials, and positive SNAP messages in mass media.

If you know someone with a low-income who could use a little extra help purchasing food, encourage them to apply for SNAP.

Outreach Trainings

  The SNAP Outreach Project offers three types of trainings depending on your needs and the populations you serve.  

  • Community Information Presentations provide basic information to community groups and agencies about hunger in RI and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
  • Outreach Trainings are targeted to staff and volunteers of social service agencies working with low-income individuals. The trainings cover the benefits of SNAP, eligibility and application guidelines.
  • Group Eligibility Presentations allow potentially eligible individuals to learn about SNAP with their peers. At these meetings Outreach staff review frequently asked questions and share information about the benefits of participating in SNAP. Application assistance may also be included in these sessions.

To schedule an outreach training or for more information, contact Maria Cimini
, 401-874-5660.  

Direct Client Outreach Assistance

Outreach staff are available to:

  • Provide basic information about the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and its benefits
  • Pre-screen potential applicants
  • Assist with SNAP applications or certification forms
  • Prepare applicants for the interview process
  • Answer questions about the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

Outreach Staff go to community agencies, pantries, soup kitchens, schools, fairs, senior centers, and housing sites; they can be scheduled for one-day or multiple-week events.

To schedule an outreach worker to assist your clients contact Katie West at 401-874-7032.

Outreach Materials

Materials about the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program provide helpful facts and information about its benefits and the application process.




We offer many materials providing:

  • Answers to frequently asked questions
  • Information about the application process
  • Community updates regarding new SNAP policy changes
  • Information about the benefits of program participation

Materials are available in English, Spanish, Portuguese, Laotian, Khmer and Russian.

Trainings and materials may be adapted for specific populations, including:

  • Disabled
  • Elderly
  • Immigrants
  • Families with children
  • Single adults
  • Working families
  • Parenting teens
  • Homeless individuals

We also provide SNAP information for your agency newsletter or quarterly mailing as well.

Contact Maria Cimini to request materials or a newsletter article, 401-874-5660


For one-on-one assistance call our toll free hotline



If you would like to download a SNAP application, please visit


Have you heard about snap?

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance

Program is the new name for the Food Stamp Program.

Learn more about the SNAP Outreach Project or to access a benefits application:

What's new at the hunger center

The Restaurant Meals Program comes to Rhode Island

Now there is a way for homeless, elderly, and disabled SNAP recipients to buy hot, prepared meals. The Restaurant Meals Program uses the same SNAP benefits and EBT cards to allow certain low-income individuals to buy low-cost meals at participating locations. Eligible individuals are the homeless, elderly, and disabled who may not have access to food storage or preparation.

For more information about the Restaurant Meals Program, visit

For more information about the Restaurant Meals Program in RI, visit



SNAP Outreach Coordinator takes part in Food Stamp Challenge

University Students Respond to Hurricane Irene

Pres. Dooley mentions the Hunger Center in his most recent "Conversation with URI"

Kathleen Gorman speaks at Hungry for Answers conference

Reaching out to the Hispanic community