Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

How to Use SNAP

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) puts your monthly benefit on the Illinois Link Card, a plastic card that looks and works like a debit card. Once you are approved for SNAP benefits, it can take up to seven days for the card to be mailed to the address on your application. Learn more about the Link Card and how to manage your Link Card account.

You can use your Illinois Link Card to buy food:

You can use SNAP benefits on your Link Card to buy:

  • Foods for the household to eat, such as:
    • Breads and cereals
    • Fruits and vegetables
    • Meats, fish, and poultry
    • Dairy products, and
  • Seeds and plants which produce food for the household to eat.

SNAP benefits cannot be used to buy:

  • Beer, wine, liquor, cigarettes or tobacco
  • Any nonfood items, such as:
    • Pet foods
    • Soaps
    • Paper products
    • Household supplies
  • Vitamins and medicines
  • Food to be eaten in the store or hot foods, or
  • Food in a restaurant, except in certain circumstances (see Restaurants Meals Program below).

Get more details about using the Illinois Link Card.

SNAP Restaurants Meals Program

The SNAP Restaurant Meals Program (RMP) lets you use your Link card at some restaurants if you get SNAP benefits and you are:

  • Blind or have a disability (or are the spouse of someone blind or with a disability)
  • 60 or older (or are the spouse of someone 60 or older), or
  • Experiencing homelessness.

The program began in specific zip codes in Cook and Franklin counties, and is gradually expanding to other Illinois counties. Learn more about the SNAP Restaurant Meals Program.

Emergency Food Program

The Emergency Food Program gives free food to people with low income, through soup kitchens or food banks. This federal program (The Emergency Food Assistance Program or TEFAP) means you may be able to get an extra food box, on top of your SNAP benefits. To get food from this program in Illinois, your total income must be under the income limits, based on the size of your household.

Get more info:

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