SPRINGFIELD – For the first time ever in Illinois, there are more than 780,000 families receiving Food Stamps (now known as SNAP, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) Secretary Michelle R.B. Saddler, today announced that the June caseload is 786,162 households, an 11.9 percent increase over June, 2009. The SNAP program is fully federally funded.
“The Food Stamp or SNAP program helps low-income families stretch their food budget,” said Secretary Saddler. “That’s why we continue to be proactive with outreach to encourage families to sign up for these important benefits. We have made applications for SNAP available at some food pantries and online through the IDHS website so more families can get the assistance they need.”
SNAP applications increased 27 percent from a year ago rising from 140,473 applications in June of 2009 to 178,415 applications in June 2010. This is part of the national trend. For the first time in US history, more than 40 million Americans are on food stamps, and the US Department of Agriculture projects that number will go up to 43 million Americans in 2011.
A family of three can be eligible for up to $526 in monthly SNAP benefits, depending on their income and expenses. Benefits are provided through the Link system and can be used to buy most food or food products, including fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables at farmers markets across the state. However, prepared, ready-to-eat hot foods are not an allowable purchase. The average SNAP benefit in Illinois is $296 a month per household.
Last year, IDHS announced Web Applications for Cash, Medical and SNAP. The on-line application cuts down wait time and reduces unnecessary trips to local offices. Persons who would like to apply for the SNAP Program can file an application on-line at www.dhs.state.il.us or at their local DHS Family Community Resource Center.
The Illinois Department of Human Services is the state’s largest agency and offers assistance including: TANF, child care assistance programs, education, job training, transportation, SNAP, medical, immigration and refugee services, literacy, vocational training, vocational rehabilitation and other services to help Illinoisans work toward self-sufficiency.