SNAP & Food Stamps

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

Emergency SNAP Benefit Reduction Ending March 2023

In March 2023, all SNAP recipients will see a reduction of benefits due to a federal policy change.

From April 2022, SNAP recipients received two different benefits per month, the regular monthly benefit that ran from the 1st to 20th of the month and then the emergency SNAP after the 21st of the month. Because of a federal policy change, the emergency SNAP will be given one last time in February 2023. As of March 2023, all Illinois SNAP recipients will see a benefit reduction.

SNAP Benefit Reduction FAQ

There will be a reduction in benefits ranging from $95 to $225 per household per month. The exact amount of benefits that will be removed will depend on the total number of members in the household and income. 


Households that have a bigger income will see a bigger reduction. Households with little to no income will see a smaller reduction in their benefits. 


Beginning March SNAP recipients will only receive the regular monthly benefits that run from the 1st to 20th of the month. SNAP recipients will no longer receive the Emergency SNAP benefits that were given after the 21st of the month.

You could obtain more benefits if you had the following changes:

  • More members in your household
  • Decrease of income 
  • Increase of house payments, medical, or child care 
  • Child support is being paid for a child not living with you. 

Please visit or call the Illinois Department of Human Services at 800-843-6154 ( to learn more about the changes that will take effect March 2023.


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 (the 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, the 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, DHS will mail you a form once or twice a year which you must fill out and send back. If you don’t, you will stop receiving 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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