Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

The Basics

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) helps you pay for food; it is part of the federal SNAP program and is managed by the Illinois Department of Human Services.

You may qualify for SNAP if your family has low income. If you get Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), you could automatically qualify. If you need help fast and meet certain requirements, you can get your cash benefits within five days or less from the date you apply.

When you get SNAP, you get an Illinois Link Card, which is a plastic card that looks and works like a debit card. Illinois puts money on the Link card each month and you use the card to pay for food.

Once approved for SNAP, you can use your Link card to buy food at grocery stores, farmers markets, and a growing number of online retailers. The SNAP Restaurant Meals Program (RMP) lets you use your Link card at some restaurants in specific zip codes if you are 60 or older (or the spouse of someone 60 or older), have a disability (or are the spouse of someone who has a disability), or are experiencing homelessness.

The amount of benefits you get each month depends on your family size and income. This article introduces SNAP, explains eligibility rules, and answers frequently asked questions about the program.

Get Expert Help

If you need help applying for SNAP or have questions about your benefits

Learn more