The  Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is designed to help people buy food by supplementing the cash they have available to buy food. It helps raise the level of nutrition for people who have low income. A person does not have to receive help from a cash or medical program to receive SNAP. Receipt of SNAP does not change the amount of cash or medical someone receives. A person is eligible for SNAP when they meet the rules and income and asset levels for SNAP.

SNAP benefits are issued via the Illinois Link system. Only SNAP unit members, or other persons selected by them, may use SNAP benefits to purchase food for the unit.

Inform the SNAP unit about the kinds of items they can purchase with SNAP benefits.

SNAP benefits can be used:

  • to pay for meals-on-wheels; or
  • to pay for group community dining; or
  • at approved: shelters, restaurants, treatment centers, and group living homes.

SNAP benefits cannot be used:

  • to buy non-food items; or
  • to pay old grocery bills; or
  • to buy hot foods that can be eaten right away.

Example 1: SNAP benefits are not to be used to pay for expensive or obvious nonfood items such as alcohol or tobacco products.

Example 2: SNAP benefits are not to be used to pay for any eligible food purchased:

  • before the time the SNAP benefits are presented to authorized retail food stores or meal services; or
  • before the receipt of food, except when prior payment is for food purchased from a nonprofit cooperative food purchasing venture.