How to Apply for SNAP Benefits

*SNAP is the new name for the Food Stamp program

Q: What is the SNAP Program?
The Department of Human Services (DHS) Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) helps single adults and families who are struggling financially buy healthy meals for themselves and their families.

Q: Can I apply for SNAP if I am on parole or probation?

A: Yes.

Q: Am I eligible for SNAP?
A: Adults qualify to receive SNAP benefits based on their income, their resources (cash, stocks, money in bank accounts, etc), and the number of people in their household.  You can qualify for SNAP if you are homeless, unemployed, working, preparing for work, or receiving a pension.  Eligibility guidelines are posted every October, so even if you were ineligible before, you may be eligible now.  If you wish to speak with a counselor about whether or not you might be eligible, call 401-222-7326.  You can also use DHS’s online eligibility pre-screening tool, available here.

Q: How do I apply for SNAP?
A: There are two steps in the application process.  If at any point you have questions about the application process or your current SNAP case, you can visit us at OpenDoors for help with your application.  You can also visit the website for useful links and frequently asked questions.

Step 1: File an application with the Department of Human Services.
You can file your application online, request a paper application by phone, or fill out the application in person at the DHS office.

If you have access to the internet, this is the easiest way to file your application.  Click here, and fill out the online form.

By Phone:
Call the SNAP Outreach Project at 1-866-306-0270 and request the “CAF 1” application.  Return the completed application to your local DHS office.

In Person:
Request an application in person at one of the many DHS offices located throughout Rhode Island.  The Providence office is located at 206 Elmwood Avenue.

Step 2: Interview with DHS
After you submit your application, DHS will contact you by mail with a time for your SNAP interview.  If you are unable to travel to the office because of work, transportation, disability, child care, or any other important factor, request an interview over the phone instead.  The interview will take about 30 minutes, and the Eligibility Technician will ask you questions about your family size, housing situation, income, and resources.
If possible, you should bring the following documents with you to the interview:

  • Identification (driver’s license, birth certificate)

  • Social Security numbers for everyone applying (you don’t have to have your S.S. card)

  • Proof of past month’s income (earned, unearned, self employment and rental)

  • Proof of past month’s housing and utility expenses such as mortgage statements, rental agreements, and bills

  • Proof of expenses such as day care and child support payments

  • Proof of medical expenses for people 60 or older or disabled

  • Proof of assets such as bank accounts, stocks, and investments

  • Documentation of citizenship status

It is only necessary to bring documents that apply to your situation.  For example, if you do not have a bank account, it is not necessary for you to bring a bank statement.  If DHS needs a document that you do not bring with you, you can mail it into the office after the interview.

Q: How do I use SNAP benefits?
A: If the officer approves your application, you will be given a special debit card (EBT) and will be asked to select a PIN number.  This card will be electronically refilled monthly, and can be used at the checkout counters of grocery and retail stores across the state to purchase healthy foods. You do not have to use up all of your SNAP money each month—the benefits can accumulate for up to 9 months.

If you do not qualify for SNAP Benefits, you can appeal the decision by speaking with the caseworker or supervisor.  You can ask for help with this process at OpenDoors.

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