Assistance Programs, Local Agencies and Charities

Food  Housing  Cash Assistance  Bills  Health  Education  Employment



  • Illinois Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)  – Monthly food stamp benefits to help low-income people and families buy the food they need for good health, Call: 800-843-6154
  • Illinois Aid to the Aged, Blind, or Disabled (AABD) Program Helps eligible persons who are aged, blind, or disabled and who need money, Call: 800-843-6154
  • Illinois Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)  – Provides cash as a temporary financial assistance for pregnant women and families with one or more dependent childrenCall: 800-843-6154
  • Illinois Federal Telephone Assistance Program (Lifeline) – Offers discounts on basic monthly service for qualified telephone customers, Call: Local telephone company
  • Illinois State Telephone Assistance Program (Link-Up) – Provides discounts on installation charges for telephone service to eligible Illinois program participants, Call: Local telephone company
  • Illinois EarnFare Program Designed to provide Illinois adults who receive SNAP benefits and who volunteer an opportunity to gain valuable work experience, earn cash assistance, and become self-sufficientCall: 800-843-6154
  • Illinois Medicaid  – A health insurance program that provides medical and health-related services to eligible Illinois residents, Call: 800-843-6154
  • Illinois Medicaid Presumptive Eligibility (MPE) Program  – Offers immediate, temporary coverage for outpatient health services to pregnant women who meet income requirements, Call: 866-255-5437
  • Illinois All Kids Program – Offers health care coverage to all children living in Illinois, Call: 866-255-5437
  • Illinois FamilyCare Program  – Covers health care services for eligible Illinois parents or caretaker relatives of children 18 years old or younger, Call: 866-255-5437
  • Illinois Health Insurance Premium Payment (HIPP) Program  – Designed to help with costs associated with health insurance premiums for some Illinois residents who have high medical expenses and who have private health insurance available, Call: 800-843-6154
  • Illinois Moms & Babies Program  – Provides health care coverage to eligible pregnant women and their infant, Call: 866-255-5437
  • Illinois Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)  – Healthy foods, breastfeeding support, nutrition education, health care referrals, Call: 217-782-2166
  • Illinois National School Lunch Program (NSLP)  Provides low-cost or free lunches to school children, Call: 866-262-6663
  • Illinois Special Milk Program  – Offers milk to children in schools, childcare institutions, and eligible camps, Call: 866-262-6663
  • Illinois School Breakfast Program (SBP)  Provides low-cost or free meals to school children, Call: 866-262-6663
  • Illinois Summer Food Service Program (SFSP)  – Provides free meals and snacks to help low-income children in the summer months, Call: 866-262-6663
  • Illinois Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP)  Provides healthy meals and snacks to children and adults receiving day care, Call: 866-262-6663
  • Illinois Head Start  – Comprehensive child development programs serving low-income children and their familiesCall: 217-241-3511
  • Illinois Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) Designed to help eligible low income households pay for winter energy service, Call: Local Agency
  • Illinois Home Weatherization Assistance Program (IHWAP) – Assists households reduce energy bills by improving energy efficiency of their homes, Call: Local Agency
  • Illinois Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP)  – Designed to aid individuals known to be at risk of malnutrition due to low income and poor health conditions, Call: 217-782-2166
  • Illinois Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP)  – Provides low-income seniors with special checks to buy fresh, nutritious fruits, vegetables, and herbs from authorized farmers’ markets, Call: 800-843-6154
  • Illinois Benefit Access Program  – Provides free transit ride to seniors and persons with disabilities, Call: 800-252-8966
  • Illinois Housing Choice Voucher Program  – Helps eligible low-income households lease privately owned rental units from participating landlords, Call: Local PHA
  • Illinois Public Housing  – Provides safe, decent, and affordable rental units for eligible low-income residents., Call: Local PHA


Homeowners Assistance and Housing Programs

Illinois – Making Home Affordable options

Making Home Affordable is a federal program designed to cover different homeowners’ hardships and financial situations. Under the program there are various options that can help Illinois homeowners in hardship stay in their homes. Depending on the situation Illinois homeowners in hardship can apply to lower their monthly payments, lower the interest rate on their home loan or even get principal reduction in some cases.

There are foreclosure alternatives and temporarily help for unemployed homeowners as well.

Here are some of the most used options under Making Home Affordable Program:

HUD (US Department of Housing and Urban Development) approved housing counselor can be reached at: 888-995-4673  (Hearing impaired: 877-304-9709 TTY) to help you understand your options, prepare your application, and work with your mortgage company.


Food Assistance Programs, Services, and Organizations in Illinois


Illinois Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or the Food Stamps Program as it is known by the public, is a federal program that provides grants to the States for purpose of reducing the hunger and malnutrition in all eligible households across the nation. SNAP helps provide healthy food to qualifying low-income families with children, elderly or disabled in each State of the USA, including Illinois. Learn more about SNAP.

It is important to know that the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is a federal entitlement program funded by U.S. Government grants. Any U.S. Citizen, even some legal alien residents, will get free food assistance as long as they meet the SNAP eligibility guidelines. In other words, there is enough Supplemental Nutrition Assistance for every American that qualifies.

In Illinois, the SNAP is known as Illinois Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and is administered by the Division of Family & Community Services (FCS) under the Illinois Department of Human Services. The Federal Government pays 100% of Illinois Food Stamp Benefits with federal grants appropriated for SNAP. The SNAP federal grants also pay a share of the Illinois SNAP administrative cost.

According to the Illinois Department of Human Services, “The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) (formerly Food Stamps) helps low-income people and families buy the food they need for good health.”


Who is Eligible for SNAP (Food Stamps) in Illinois?

The eligibility rules and benefit amounts in Illinois, like in other States, are based on limited income, limited liquid resources, household size, and other requirements, some of them specific to each State. Most eligibility rules are determined by regulations issued by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Food and Nutrition Service.

The federal law allows States some flexibility when implementing SNAP on a State level. State agencies can adapt some of the food assistance program rules in order to meet the needs of eligible, low‐income local population.

Illinois Food Assistance Program is designed for individuals and families with limited income resources, who compose a household, and purchase and prepare their meals together for home consumption.

For the purpose of the Illinois SNAP, everyone who lives together and purchases and prepares food together is considered as a part of one household formation. The definition includes husbands and wives, and their children under age 22 when living together, even if they purchase and prepare meals separately.

In Illinois anyone with limited income and resources may apply for food stamps but, in general, to qualify for Illinois SNAP (Food Stamp) Benefits you must meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • Illinois Resident – must be a U.S. Citizen or a legal resident with SNAP eligible non-citizen status;
  • Work Requirement – unless exempted, each able-bodied household member must work or participate in an employment and training program, registered to work, and accept a suitable employment offer;
  • Income Limits –  Income limits eligibility depends on the household size and composition. Households with no elderly (age 60 or older) or disabled individuals must meet gross income limits that do not exceed 130% of federal poverty level (FPL). Households with elderly or disabled individuals must have gross income that is less than 200% of the established federal poverty line, the FPL. Gross income includes wages, salaries, commissions, dividends, child support, self-employment income, unemployment compensation, social security benefits etc..

See the table for Maximum Monthly Income Allowable for SNAP Benefits Eligibility in State of Illinois as per household size:

Oct. 1, 2015 through Sept. 30, 2016 USDA FNS SNAP Max Income
Household SizeGross Monthly Income
200 % of FPL (elderly or disabled)
Gross Monthly Income
130 % of FPL
Each additional member+$694+$451

Source: USDA, SNAP Income Eligibility Standards

Illinois SNAP Program has special rules for elderly or disabled applicants and beneficiaries. Illinois households with disabled or elderly members may qualify for food stamp benefits regardless of the amount of gross income. In such cases, when gross incomes is over 200% of the poverty line, those households must have liquid assets of $3,250 or less, in order to qualify for SNAP benefits.

Some Illinois residents may be automatically or so called categorically eligible for Food Stamps if they already participate in other means tested assistance programs. Getting benefits from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) federal block grant or receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) can make the applicant for SNAP Benefits categorically eligible, thus bypassing the income eligibility and asset eligibility rules. Under the federal SNAP regulations, States do have to assign a gross income limit of 200% of the federal poverty line (FPL) or less in order to use any TANF-funded benefit that can make Food Assistance applicants eligible.


Quick Eligibility Check

Use this Pre-Screening Tool to find out if you may be eligible to get Illinois SNAP Benefits (Food Stamps). Although you will be notified immediately if you qualify after completing the questionnaire you still have to make an application at your local Illinois DHS Office. There are other federal and state specific requirements that must be met for Food Stamp Benefits applicants in different situations.


What are Maximum Illinois SNAP (Food Stamps) Benefits?

If approved, the Illinois SNAP benefit amounts depend on the household size and the amount of the their net income. USDA has maximum SNAP benefit limits per month per household size. Check below what are the maximum food stamp assistance monetary amounts. The dollar amounts of the food stamp benefits are called allotments.

Oct. 1, 2015 - Sept. 30, 2016 USDA Max SNAP Allotments
Household SizeMaximum Food Assistance Monthly Allotment
Each additional member$146

Source: USDA, SNAP Maximum Allotments


How to Apply for SNAP Benefits (Food Stamps) in Illinois?

In Illinois one application is used to apply for Cash Assistance, Medical Assistance, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Benefits. Applicants can get the application online or from  the local Illinois DHS offices. The applicant needs to fill out all required information on the application and return it to the office.

You can print the Illinois Application for Cash Assitance – Medical Assistance – Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), read the questions and complete all required information, sign, and turn your application into the local Illinois DHS Office where you live. If you need help call: 1-800-843-6154.

You can go into the local Illinois DHS Office and apply for SNAP benefits while you are there. A DHS employee will ask you questions pertinent to SNAP eligibility and enter your answers into a computer. At the end you will be given a computer printout with your answers on it. When you sign it – this becomes your official application for SNAP benefits. In case you are physically unable to come into the local Illinois DHS office, an application can be mailed to you upon request. A case worker can interview you over the phone.

If Illinois DHS finds you eligible for SNAP benefits, you will be eligible to receive food stamps from the date your signed application is received.

If you do not have all the information, provide as much as you can, but you must include your name, social security number, what you are applying for, and your signature. The DHS Office has to accept the application with the current date. You can provide the rest of the information later.

In addition to the  interview, you may need to provide some supporting documents that would help DHS  Office determine your eligibility.  Within 30 days of the interview, if eligible, you will receive a notice stating how much food assistance benefit and for how long your household is eligible for before a review of the case is due.

You may also apply for Illinois SNAP Benefits online via the ABE website .  Applicants online may also check their eligibility and apply for Cash Assistance or Medical Assistance.

As noted, Illinois Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program application must be processed withing 30 days from the date of filing. If your household is approved, you will start receiving SNAP benefits from the date the office received your signed application. The SNAP benefit amounts depend on the household size and its net income – that is all countable income minus all allowable deductions.


Illinois SNAP Benefits Approval, Rules, Proofs Required

The DHS Office has to verify provided information and interview you before determining if the household is eligible for SNAP Benefits. Here are some examples of information that may be needed at the SNAP application interview:

  • Proof of your identity
  • Proof of your citizenship such as birth certificate, U.S. passport, hospital record, etc.
  • Immigration papers for persons applying for benefits, who are not U.S. citizens
  • Social security numbers for persons applying for benefits
  • Proof of income for each household member (check stubs, award letters for social security or veterans administration, unemployment benefits, contributions from family or friends, child support, etc.)

Additional information and proof may be required depending upon your situation. In case you are not able to provide all the information during the SNAP application interview, you will be given time to provide the required proof.

Applicants for SNAP benefits in Illinois should get a response within 30 days from the date they submitted their application to the local DHS Office. Households cannot receive food stamps assistance from more than one State in a month. When start getting food stamps benefits, households must report any changes of their situation in a 6-months period in order to assure their participation in the Illinois Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

SNAP regulations require all non‐exempt household members to comply with work requirements. Work requirements include registering for work, participating in an employment and training (E&T) or workfare program if assigned to one by the State agency, not voluntarily quitting a job 30 or more hours per week and accepting a suitable employment offer. Individuals who fail to comply with SNAP work requirements without good cause are ineligible for program benefits and disqualified from SNAP for certain periods of time, depending on how many prior instances of non‐compliance there have been.

The law limits the SNAP benefits to 3 months in a 3-year period for all able-bodied adults between the ages of 18-50 without dependents, who are not working or participating in a work program for at least 20 hours each week.

As part of the SNAP federal grant assistance requirements, each State has to offer employment and training (E&T) program to its SNAP benefits recipients. Participants in such programs, where available, can get adult education, vocational training, job skills training for specific jobs, and work experience via short-term unpaid work assignments. The main goal of the E&T program is to help Illinois food stamp recipients get jobs, reduce or eliminate their dependency on the government benefits. Call  1-800-843-6154 to find more about Illinois Employment and Training Program.


Approved! When and How Do I Get the SNAP Benefits?

Illinois Food Stamp Program provides the SNAP benefits via the Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) system. The monetary benefits of the Illinois Food Stamps are transferred to the accounts of qualified beneficiaries and are accessible through an Illinois Link card, a debit card,  which is issued to anyone approved for SNAP.  The Illinois SNAP Benefits are deposited into the recipients accounts each month following the Benefit Issuance Schedule.

Illinois SNAP Benefits are made available on the 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 13th, 17th, and 20th of every month, based on a combination of the type of case and the case name. Recipients may obtain information about eligibility and benefit availability by calling the DHS Help Line at: 1-800-843-6154.

If you have any question regarding your EBT Account or EBT Card call Illinois EBT Customer Service: 1-800-678-5465


How and Where to Use the SNAP Benefits?

When approved, food stamp beneficiaries will get Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards –  Illinois Link Card. The beneficiaries can use their cards at any SNAP (Food Stamps) approved grocery stores and Farmers’ Markets that are authorized by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). With their EBT Card food stamp recipients can buy any food to be eaten at home by people, including baby food, non-alcoholic beverages, and seasonings. Allowed are also seeds and plants to grow food for family’s consumption. Non-grocery items such as cleaning products, pet food, paper products, alcohol, or tobacco are not allowed.


I Need Food Assistance Now. It is an Emergency!

Some households may get Expedited Services – that is getting Food Stamp Benefits within 7 calendar days if your household has less than $150 in monthly gross income and liquid resources (cash, checking or savings accounts) of $100 or less; or your rent/mortgage and utilities are more than your household’s combined monthly income and liquid resources; or a member of your household is a migrant or seasonal farm worker. In order to get expedite assistance, if you qualify for it, provide all required information and proof as soon as possible. Call 1-800-843-6154 for more information on Illinois Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.