When Your Family Needs Help Getting Food
You have options. Some come from the federal and state government, like the WIC Program and free and reduced price school meals. Others are neighbors sharing with neighbors, like food pantries and community meal sites.
Women, Infants and Children (WIC) serves pregnant, breastfeeding and postpartum women, infants and children up to age 5. WIC provides a free nutritional assessment, nutrition counseling, breastfeeding support, food vouchers, and referrals. You can get vouchers for milk, cheese, eggs, whole grain bread, rice or pasta, fruits and vegetables, peanut butter and beans and breakfast cereal. Vouchers may be used at participating grocery stores and farmers markets. Eligibility is determined by income, family size and nutritional need. You must apply for WIC in person.
WIC sites in Washington County [by appointment only]
- Thundermist Health Center, 1 River Street, Wakefield, (401) 360-1528
- Lafayette Mill Complex, 650 Ten Rod Road, North Kingstown, (401) 360-1528
- Tower Street Community Center, 93 Tower Street, Westerly, (401) 387-9611
- Wood River Health Services, 823 Main Street, Hope Valley, (401) 387-9638
Supplement Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the successor to food stamps, permits eligible families to buy food items at participating groceries and farmers markets. Some farmers markets offer Bonus Bucks for increased buying power. You will receive an EBT (electronic benefits transfer) card. If you choose, you can apply online.
Free and reduced price school breakfasts and lunches: Rhode Island requires all public and publicly-funded schools to provide meals to children who need them. Your children qualify:
- For free meals if family income is 130% of the poverty level
- For reduced-price meals if income is between 130-185% of poverty level
- Schools can set the meal price once your income is over 185% of the poverty level.
(7 of every 10 school lunches in Rhode Island are served free or at reduced price.)
You can apply online
South County Food Pantries and Meal Sites
Most of the locations below offer regular mealtimes. Below you will find hours and in some cases a website so you can learn more:
- Block Island: Helping Hands Food Pantry, Harbor Church, Wednesdays 3-6 pm
- Carolina: New Hope Chapel, 80 Richmond Townhouse Road (next to the Washington County Fair Grounds)
- Charlestown: St. Mary/St. James Food Pantry, Matunuck School House Road, Wednesday and Thursday 9:30 -11:30 am and 6:30-7:30 pm.
- R.I. Center Assisting Those in Need, (401) 364-9412
- Exeter: Exeter Food Bank, Exeter Chapel, 765 Ten Rod Road. Appointments for Wednesdays must be made through the Exeter Welfare Department, (401) 294-3176.
- Narragansett: St Peter’s By The Sea
- North Kingstown: North Kingstown Food Pantry
- South Kingstown: Jonnycake Center of Peacedale
- New Life Assembly
- Westerly: Jonnycake Center of Westerly (serves Westerly, Hopkinton, Richmond and Charlestown)
Senior Meal Sites
Would you or a fellow senior you know benefit from extra food and company? These senior sites may be the ticket.
- Charlestown Senior Center: Senior meal site: 4540 South County Trail, (401) 364-6998
- North Kingstown, Beachwood House Senior Center: Sea breeze dining program for seniors, 44 Beach Street, North Kingstown, (401) 268-1590.
- South Kingstown Senior Center: 25 St. Dominic Rd., Wakefield, (401) 789-0268
- Westerly Senior Center: 39 State Street, (401) 596-7216, menu & calendar
Family Meal Sites
Your family needn’t be hungry or feel alone. These good folks welcome your visit.
- Peacedale: Welcome House, 8 North Road, (401) 782- 4770. Serves lunch, Mondays-Fridays, 12-1 pm
- Peacedale Congregational Church, Dinner Table, 261 Columbia Street , (401) 789-7313, Wednesdays. 4:30-6 pm
- Wakefield: Church of the Ascension, Sunday Supper, 5 pm, 370 Main Street, Wakefield, (401) 783-2911
- Westerly: The Warm Shelter, Anita’s Kitchen, 54 Spruce Street, lunch 12-1 pm, dinner 5:30-6:30 pm, (401) 596-9276
- Westerly: The Supper Table, Thursdays, 4:30–6 pm, free dinner for families at The Calabrese Club. Transportation available.