Social Services Data

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides low-income families with resources to purchase food. Access to this service can help relieve food insecurity and increase access to healthy, affordable foods.

Purpose

To assess Rhode Island's progress towards advancing health equity, as part of Rhode Island's statewide health equity indicators.

Key Information

Indicator Ratio: Number of individuals receiving to number of individuals eligible for SNAP benefits, based on income
Data Source Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), US Census Bureau (available annually)
Strata City/Town
What this indicator means

This indicator is a composite, calculated percentage using data from both SNAP and the US Census Bureau. The numerator of the ratio, the number of individuals receiving SNAP benefits, is reported annually by city and town directly from the RI SNAP program at the Rhode Island Department of Human Services. The denominator of the ratio, the number of individuals eligible for SNAP benefits based on income, is drawn from US Census data that estimate the number of individuals in each city and town with an annual income below 185% of the federal poverty line (in accordance with SNAP eligibility requirements). For ease of interpretation, the ratio was converted to a percentage using the formula: number of individuals receiving SNAP benefits divided by number of individuals eligible for SNAP benefits, multiplied by 100. This indicator should be interpreted as, "the percentage of individuals receiving SNAP benefits out of the total number of people who are eligible for SNAP benefits, based on income" in a given city or town. For this indicator, a higher percentage is favorable, whereas a lower percentage would suggest that fewer people in that city or town are accessing SNAP, are aware of SNAP, or are experiencing some other barrier to enrolling to receive SNAP benefits they are eligible for. Cities and towns with the lowest values for this indicator are therefore considered the most disadvantaged.

Note: This indicator looks at eligibility for SNAP benefits based on income. The SNAP program takes other factors into account when determining eligibility, such as family size, resources, age, and disability status. Therefore, these data may differ from eligibility data provided by the USDA Food and Nutrition Service.

Key Findings, 2016

  • Richmond, Woonsocket, and West Greenwich had the highest percentages of individuals enrolled in SNAP out of those who were potentially eligible for SNAP benefits, based on income, in those towns.
  • The core cities - Providence, Central Falls, Pawtucket, and Woonsocket - have percentages above the state average, and in the top 11 out of Rhode Island's 39 cities and towns.

Rhode Island Numbers

Ratio: Number of individuals receiving SNAP to number of individuals eligible based on income, 2016

Data Source: Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) - Annual