Photo by Jacqueline Serrato

Illinois Temporarily Expands Food Stamps During COVID-19

Link cardholders and households with children receive emergency food stamps

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In April, Illinois raised the monthly allotment for SNAP recipients to the maximum amount, began providing food stamps to households with children, started screening applicants regardless of social security, and revised the guidelines for able-bodied single adults.

These changes were made possible by federal COVID-19 legislation known as the Families First Coronavirus Response Act that gave states the option to expand benefits. Illinois households that receive food stamps through the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), especially those with school-aged children, are seeing larger deposits in their Link debit cards. New applicants are also experiencing faster processing as the state acts to address the financial strain stemming from the COVID-19 emergency.

Between April 8 and April 20, deposits for existing Link card holders were at their maximum amount based on household size, and they will automatically reissue in May, according to the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS). Single individuals will now receive $194, while $355 will be given to a household of two, $509 to a household of three, and $646 to a household of four. SNAP users can see how much is designated for other household sizes on the IDHS website.

The state approved a fund that will go to 316,000 households with children who qualify for free and reduced-cost lunch in school. The fund will cover the cost of meals that would have otherwise been consumed at school. The benefit amount is provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which administers SNAP, and is calculated using a $5.70 per day per student calculation over the total number of missed school days in March, April, and May. 

The Illinois Pandemic EBT, as the program is called, will automatically load into existing Link cards starting mid-April. Families with school-aged children who are eligible for free or reduced meals when school is in session, but who do not currently receive SNAP benefits, will be able to submit a simplified application as early as next week. They can do so by visiting the state’s online portal or by completing a paper application, which will be available on the IDHS website.

Although Governor J.B. Pritzker has ordered all schools in the state closed through the end of the school year, officials have not yet commented on whether benefits will be extended into June. 

New SNAP applications are being processed quicker now that they demand less documentation. Social security numbers are no longer required upfront, in-person interviews are waived, and verbal signatures are accepted by phone, according to the USDA website. The requirements and limitations for able-bodied individuals without dependents who apply for SNAP benefits have also been loosened during the pandemic.

“We are constantly looking for ways to provide extra support for Illinois residents during this extremely difficult time,” said IDHS Secretary Grace B. Hou in a statement. “IDHS has and will continue to apply for waivers that provide additional food assistance for children and families in our state.”

Illinois’s approximately 475,000 SNAP households will go back to receiving their regular Link amounts in June 2020 unless public officials extend the emergency benefits.

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Jacqueline Serrato is the editor-in-chief of the Weekly. She last covered strikes by local Amazon warehouse workers.

11 Comments

  1. What about the people that work and do not have when you I have kids. Work and pay tax Later . Because of
    COVID-19 I’m laid off work I think I should be able to get snap to I’m not looking out I’m not looking for a handout but I’m looking for some help have a blessed day thank you

  2. My name is jerry j sutter i live in east dubuque ill 61025, i want to thankyou for helping me out with my snap benefit‘s on june 1 2020} they were only giving me $16.00 dollars} do to covid-19 a little more money on my linkcard will help me out, by buying more groceries! Just want the gov to know what he doing by stay home order and stay safe, be healthy?

  3. Thank you for the extra link money it helps more then you know I do not go to food drives I fill like to many others can use it that have children. Thank You So So very much Sue

  4. They aren’t increasing our snap benefits for June 2020 due to Covid we only got an increase in April and May

  5. I recently recieved a link card because I am on medical leave from work and my pay is cut until I go back, but I only recieve 16$, i was told it should go to the max for a single individual at 194$ but that didn’t happen. Is this for everyone or just certain reasons? Not complaining just curious?

  6. If you receive a one time payment such as a stimulus check, do your food stamps stop? Do you report it? Or because it’s a one time payment your benefits will continue?

  7. My aunt want to have a reunion on sept 5 2020 and no one go to show, do to covid-19 pandemic, the sutter family will‘nt be going to it don‘t want to get sick there, we all are listenning to the gov of illinois by staying home order, stay safe stay healthy, we are not listenning to anyone else, my aunt susie martelle guy martelle and lavern martelle will have it? If no one come to it they should cancel it till next year but they want to be ass to them self bye putting it on? It not happen at all dont want to get coronavirus there other people will be there with there rubber glove and mask on not the other half are nt going do to bad sickness going around?

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