SNAP/Food Stamps

Northern Illinois Food Bank SNAP Team is available from 8:30am – 5:00pm, Monday – Friday.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly the food stamp program, provides extra funds to low-income families to buy groceries. The funds come on the Link Card which looks and swipes like a debit card at most grocery and convenience stores. In the United States, over 45 million people are receiving SNAP benefits and just over 2 million of them live in Illinois. People who receive SNAP benefits can still visit their local food pantry, soup kitchen, or get other food assistance.


Eligibility is based primarily on household size and income. Certain other rules may apply. Income allowance is higher for households with a member who is 60+, blind, or disabled. The experts on the Northern Illinois Food Bank SNAP Outreach team can determine your eligibility in less than 5 minutes. Call us toll-free at 844-600-SNAP (7627) or email [email protected].

If you’d like to apply for food stamps (EBT/ Link card), you have several options and should choose whichever is most convenient for you.

Northern Illinois Food Bank’s SNAP Outreach team is committed to serving people with dignity and helping them avoid long wait times and confusing rules. We help people apply in person, over the phone, or we can mail you a blank paper application. Contact us toll-free at 844-600-SNAP (7627) or email [email protected] for details.

You can also apply online anytime via the State of Illinois’s website at

Finally, you can go to your local public aid office directly and apply in person. Contact us for your nearest location.

Filling out the application takes 20-45 minutes, depending on your family size. Once your application has been submitted, you will receive a phone call or written notice from the Department of Human Services (DHS) within 1 to 14 days for your “benefits interview.” A caseworker will ask you about who is in your household, your address, income, and expenses. After you speak with DHS, you will get a letter in the mail that tells you if you’ve been approved or denied.

If approved, EBT/Link card comes in the mail within 30-45 days of applying and you can begin to use it at the store. You can continue to receive monthly food stamps on your Link card as long as you still qualify. To make sure you still qualify for benefits, families who receive income from their employer, self-employment, gifts, money from stocks/bonds/IRA or unemployment will receive a midpoint report to complete six months after receiving benefits. You will receive a redetermination after a year of benefits.

Seniors, Disable Neighbors, or anyone 60 years of age or older, you will receive a midpoint report once every year and a redetermination every two years.

Failure to complete your Midpoint or Redetermination could result in the termination of your benefits.

Maybe, but by receiving SNAP benefits you are not taking benefits away from someone else. Eligibility for SNAP and benefit amount is based on who’s in your household, how much money you make, and what expenses you pay. If you qualify for the benefit, you should not feel uncomfortable accepting it: after all, we all need help from time to time! In Illinois, thousands of households qualify for the program that do not utilize it.

Documented immigrants (also called Legal Permanent Residents) of 5 years or more may apply for food stamps. Undocumented residents are not eligible by law. However, undocumented adults can apply on behalf of children who are eligible. Refugees are eligible right away. Certain other rules apply. If you’re not sure about your situation, please call our toll-free SNAP Help Line at 844-600-SNAP (7627) or email [email protected]. Applying for or receiving SNAP benefits does not affect future citizenship or status. Receiving food stamps does not make a person a “public charge.”

If we can’t answer your question, we’ll put you in touch with someone who can! Give us a call on our toll-free SNAP Help Line at 844-600-SNAP (7627) or email [email protected]. Please note we cannot look up your case in the state system or make case changes on your behalf.

Healthy families make healthy communities! SNAP recipients not only have better nutritional and educational outcomes but are better able to pay other bills. SNAP successfully targets our most vulnerable populations: in fact, 83% of SNAP dollars are spent in households where at least one member is a senior, disabled person, or a child. Finally, SNAP dollars go directly into grocery stores, helping local economies by creating demand for jobs and products. Check out Feeding America’s website for more.

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