What is the purpose of this service? 

The Emergency Food Program (EFP) provides food at no cost to help supplement the diets of needy low-income households.  The EFP is a Federal program, administered by the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Who can receive these services?

Individuals or households who are residents of Illinois and meet income guidelines. Food pantries may ask for proof of identity and residency. People who receive prepared meals at soup kitchens or homeless shelters are considered income eligible.

Income Guidelines

See The Emergency Food Progam - Income Eligiblity Guidelines (English and Spanish) - DHS 4509(E/S) brochure.

What services are offered?

In Illinois, the program is administered by the Department of Human Services. The Department of Human Services contracts with 8 food banks across the state to oversee the release of food to food pantries and soup kitchens. The money granted under the contracts is used to give both privately donated food and USDA food. 

Food pantries are open every week for at least two hours to serve the public and have privately donated food available on an emergency basis in addition to USDA commodities.

Soup kitchens serve prepared, group meals to homeless, transient or other needy people.

More Information & Resources

DHS Office Locator

DHS Help Line

  • 1-800-843-6154
  • 1-800-447-6404 TTY