Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)


Marcela's Story

Marcela lives with her husband, brother, and two children. She works part-time for a local community center. Her brother was in a car accident several years back and since then injuries from the accident have limited him to working just a few hours per week.

Even so, Marcela’s family never had trouble making ends meet until Marcela’s husband was laid off from his job. They were still able to pay for rent, but money got tight. Marcela decided that they needed help paying for food.

Her first step was to learn about the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) from the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS). Next, she called the IDHS help line at 1-800-843-6154 to get more info about SNAP.

Applying for SNAP

Marcela applied for SNAP online using the Illinois Application for Benefits Eligibility. On the application, she stated her family’s income, resources, and living situation. The website also listed the information she may need to give the DHS Family Community Resource Center, so Marcela gathered her pay stubs, bank records, and other proof of her family’s income and situation in case they needed it.

About a week after turning in the application, Marcela got a notice from her DHS Family Community Resource Center saying that she may qualify for SNAP, but she needed to schedule an interview first. During the interview, they discussed Marcela’s brother’s disability. When SNAP figured how much Marcela’s family should get in benefits, they deducted the money Marcela’s family spent on medical care for her brother from their family income. That meant they’d get more SNAP than they otherwise would.

Using SNAP

About two weeks after her phone interview, Marcela got a notice that her family had been approved for $400 a month in SNAP benefits. This was the maximum benefit amount for households of five ($1,155), minus the net income that Marcela had from her job. She also got her Illinois Link Card in the mail, along with instructions about how to use it.

Before she went to the store, Marcela used the Illinois Link Card website to see how much she had in SNAP benefits on her Link card. That way, she knew how much she could spend on food at the store.

The first time she went to the store, Marcela looked in the window to make sure it had the “Illinois Link” sign, so she knew her Link Card would work. She picked up some groceries and when she reached the cashier, she pulled out her Link Card and paid for her food items with her SNAP benefits without any problems.

Then, she went to a nearby farmers market that accepts the Link Card. The market also participated in the Link at the Market program, which meant she could get a great deal on fruits and veggies. She knew it was apple season and some ripe apples would go great with breakfast.

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