SNAP benefits are distributed electronically through Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards. Customers use these cards to spend their SNAP benefits. Each state has its own name for their EBT card. Illinois' EBT card is the Illinois Link card. Any EBT card will work at any SNAP certified retailer nationwide. Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) certification for SNAP allows stores to accept the Illinois Link card and EBT cards from other states.
Federal Approval Process to Accept the Illinois Link Card
Contact the FNS office, under the US Department of Agriculture. FNS oversees the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which is the new name for the Food Stamp Program.
The FNS web site provides information for retailers who want to apply. You may obtain an application on the web site and apply on-line. The federal application process can take up to 45 days for approval.
Farmers' Markets that would like to accept SNAP fill out the same FNS application used by other retailers. No special state application or approval is needed. For More information on Farmers Markets, please go to Accepting Illinois Link at Farmers Markets.
Once approved by FNS to accept SNAP benefits, the store (including Farmers' Markets) will be given the option to ALSO accept CASH benefits distributed through the Illinois Link card.