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.
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.
The SNAP Outreach Project offers three types of trainings depending on your needs and the populations you serve.
To schedule an outreach training or for more information, contact Maria Cimini, 401-874-5660.
Direct Client Outreach Assistance
Outreach staff are available to:
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.
Materials about the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program provide helpful facts and information about its benefits and the application process.
We offer many materials providing:
Materials are available in English, Spanish, Portuguese, Laotian, Khmer and Russian.
Trainings and materials may be adapted for specific populations, including:
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
The SNAP Outreach project conducts media campaigns to share information about the benefits of SNAP participation with the entire community on radio, PBS programming, bill boards and buses.
For one-on-one assistance call our toll free hotline
If you would like to download a SNAP application, please visit eatbettertoday.com.
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:
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 www.snaprmp.org.
For more information about the Restaurant Meals Program in RI, visit www.eatbettertoday.com