CRANSTON, R.I. – The Rhode Island Department of Human Services (DHS) today launched the statewide Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Eat Well, Be Well Pilot Rewards Program, in partnership with retailers Stop & Shop and Walmart. This is the first statewide program of its kind in the country, providing SNAP recipients with up to $25 a month in additional benefits for purchasing eligible fruits and vegetables.
Currently, the pilot program is available at all Stop & Shop locations in the state, as well as all Rhode Island Walmart locations. The announcement was made at the Stop & Shop store located on Mineral Spring Avenue in North Providence.
SNAP recipients will receive this incentive automatically at the cash register after purchasing eligible fruits and vegetables. There are approximately 140,000 SNAP recipients currently in the state.
SNAP customers will receive an additional 50 cents in benefits to their EBT card for every SNAP dollar spent on eligible fresh fruit and vegetable purchases, with up to $25 in extra benefits being awarded per month. These reward incentives will be applied to customers’ Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards immediately after the purchase is complete and can subsequently be used to purchase any SNAP eligible item.
“The Eat Well Be Well Rewards Program (EWBW) offers an innovative approach to address food insecurity by making fresh produce more affordable through a monetary SNAP incentive,” said EOHHS Secretary Richard Charest. “I am grateful to all the partners who worked hard to make this pilot program happen and want to acknowledge Walmart and Stop & Shop for their participation.”
“DHS is incredibly excited to be able to offer this innovative new program here in Rhode Island,” said DHS Director Kimberly Merolla-Brito. “The effort to stand up and operationalize this pilot has taken the hard work and collaboration of many including staff, elected officials, and our retail partners. I believe the Eat Well, Be Well Program will provide an additional and important opportunity to help support increased access to healthy and nutritious fruits and vegetables to many.”
“The launch of the Eat Well, Be Well pilot program is an incredibly encouraging day for Rhode Island,” said Congressman Gabe Amo. “I hope this pilot will be as innovative as it is impactful. Not only are we providing additional SNAP funds for families who purchase fresh, healthy foods, but Rhode Island is demonstrating the power of public-private partnerships and collaboration as we work on tackling some of our most complex challenges.”
“As we watch our grocery bills getting more expensive by the day, we must recognize that there is a significant portion of Rhode Island’s population that is truly struggling to afford putting healthy food on their tables. That’s why the SNAP Eat Well, Be Well pilot program will be a vital safety net in ensuring that our lower income residents and families are still able to acquire and eat healthy fruits and vegetables, which are often too expensive to buy on nutrition benefits alone,” said Sen. Jonathon Acosta (D-Dist. 16, Central Falls, Pawtucket).
“Food insecurity is a very serious crisis that affects far too many Rhode Islanders. According to the Rhode Island Community Food Bank, one in four Rhode Island families with children are going hungry. I was proud to champion legislation that led to the creation of the SNAP Eat Well, Be Well pilot program, which will increase the amount of nutritious foods on the tables of thousands of our most vulnerable, food insecure neighbors — many of which are children, seniors, and working families. I am grateful to all of the partners who helped make this initiative possible, and I look forward to working to ensure the program’s long-term success,” said Sen. Valarie J. Lawson (D-Dist. 14, East Providence).
“Stop and Shop is committed to working with our local communities to create sustainable solutions to fight food insecurity and provide greater access to healthy foods,” said Gordon Reid, President of Stop & Shop. “We want to thank the State of Rhode Island for creating a program that is empowering people to make healthier choices for their families. We’re proud to be one of the first retail partners to bring the Eat Well Be Well program to Rhode Islanders.”
“The Rhode Island Department of Human Services Eat Well, Be Well campaign aligns with Walmart’s mission to save people money, so they can live better,” said Chris Buchanan, Director of Public and Government Affairs for Walmart. “We are proud to support this program and remain committed to providing fresh food to communities across the state of Rhode Island.”
“We’re proud to team up with the Department of Human Services to initiate a pilot program to shape a healthier future for Rhode Islanders,” said Dr. Amy Nunn, Executive Director of Rhode Island Public Health Institute. “This life-changing initiative signifies a positive shift, ensuring easier access to healthier food options, especially for those who need it most. Our research underscores the pivotal role of SNAP incentives in making healthy choices more affordable. With enthusiastic anticipation, we set our sights on scaling the program, creating greater access and impact for hundreds of thousands.”
As an example, items eligible for this incentive include, but are not limited to:
• Fresh fruits and vegetables that are cut or whole
• Edible seeds (e.g., sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds)
• Fresh herbs
• Salad kits – inclusive of products that have cheese, croutons, dressing, etc. included
• Pomegranate cup
• Potted fruit, vegetable, and herb plants
• Fresh garlic
The monthly cap for the financial incentive is $25 per SNAP household. For example, a SNAP household can spend $50 per month on eligible fresh fruits and vegetables and receive up to a $25 reward incentive directly onto their EBT card automatically. The SNAP recipient does not need to take any additional steps to receive the incentive. The reward will be applied immediately after the purchase of any eligible items and will be credited back onto their EBT card.
The Eat Well, Be Well rewards balance can be checked through three different ways:
The reward balance is printed on the bottom of the receipt when customers check out at the grocery store
Online on the customer’s account at www.EBTedge.com or at www.healthyrhode.ri.gov or the HealthyRhode mobile app
Customers can also call the EBT customer service number at 1-888-979-9939. Should customers have questions about their balance, please email DHS at firstname.lastname@example.org
This pilot program was funded through an $11.5 million budgetary appropriation in the FY23 budget to the Department of Human Services. Additional information on the program can be found here: https://eatwellbewellri.com.