For SNAP application assistance or questions, contact the Iowa HelpLine:
Iowa HelpLine, in partnership with the Iowa Food Bank Association, Mon-Fri between 8:00 am – 5:00 pm: (855) 944-3663
Contact by email: Lisa Spitler, Food Assistance Outreach Coordinator
The HelpLine and state assistance programs are free services. Your information will be kept private and will only be used to process your request and to provide application assistance.
*It is important to notify the Department of Human Services of any address, income, or asset changes.
SNAP FAQS/ADDITIONAL RESOURCES
Someone can still be eligible for SNAP if they have a home, car, cell phone, and/or bank account.
A non-citizen who is a qualified alien might be eligible for SNAP benefits in Illinois. This includes but is not limited to refugees, victims of trafficking, Cuban and Haitian immigrants, Iraqi and Afghan immigrants with special status. More information can be found at USDA’s website: SNAP Policy on Non-Citizen Eligibility
A fixed address is not needed to apply for SNAP benefits. A person can be eligible if they are homeless or living in a shelter.
If approved, you’ll get an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card in the mail. It looks like a debit card and you’ll create a 4-digit PIN to use at a checkout register or online at select retailers. You’ll use the card to pay for any food products; any non-food products will show as a remaining balance to pay with a different method during checkout. Calling an automated system with the toll-free number on the back of the EBT card will give you information on your monthly benefit amount, card balance, and answer other EBT card-related questions.
SNAP can be used on any food or food product; this includes seeds to grow a home garden. SNAP cannot be used on vitamins, medication, pet food, ready-to-eat hot meals, meals made at a store, alcohol, tobacco, hygiene products, or any other non-food items.
An Electronic Benefits Transfer card (EBT), called “Link” in Illinois, is sent out if you are approved for SNAP; it can be used like a debit card at thousands of retailers in your state of residence, including local farmer’s markets. A growing number of online grocery retailers (Walmart, Aldi, Amazon Pantry, etc.) also now accept SNAP.
SNAP recipients are sometimes eligible for other nongovernment programs through private companies such as reduced utility bills, free or reduced ticket prices at museums, discounted Amazon prime membership, and discounts on internet/ phone services. See our flyer with some of the benefits available and visit the Illinois or Iowa DHS website to learn more.
If you’re in Illinois, you can use the Illinois Department of Human Services SNAP Eligibility Calculator to estimate eligibility before filling out an application.
If you live in Iowa, you can visit the Iowa Department of Human Services Assistance Eligibility Portal or call the Iowa HelpLine at (855) 944-3663.
Get more details on the program, eligibility requirements, documentation needed, and programs and services SNAP recipients may also be eligible for at the Illinois Department of Human Services’ website. You may also call the IL HelpLine, in partnership with the Northern Illinois Food Bank, Mon-Fri between 8:00 am – 5:00 pm: (844) 600-7627.
Find more information about SNAP in Iowa, eligibility requirements, other programs available to Iowa residents in need, and apply for programs and assistance online at the Iowa Department of Human Services website. You may also call the IA HelpLine, in partnership with the Iowa Foodbank Association, Mon- Fri between 8:00 am-5:00 pm: (855) 944-3663.
The first Food Stamp program was established in 1933. The program transitioned to being more nutritionally friendly and was officially renamed the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in 2008.
You will NEVER be charged a fee to apply for benefits. Be on the lookout for ads on the internet falsely offering to help fill out applications in exchange for any kind of fee.
The USDA encourages SNAP participants to take actions that may help prevent card skimming or unauthorized use of benefits. For example:
- Do not respond to text messages claiming there is an issue with your EBT benefits card. The USDA and IDHS will NEVER text you to inform you of issues with your EBT benefits card. Any text messages you receive asking you to call a number to resolve an issue with your card is a phishing attempt to steal your PIN and card number.
- Keep your PIN secret. Do not share your PIN with anyone outside your household. Cover the keypad when you enter your PIN on a machine.
- Check your EBT account regularly for unauthorized charges. If you notice any, change your PIN immediately to stop the thief from making any new purchases.
- Check card reading machines to make sure there’s nothing suspicious overlaid or attached to the card swiper or keypad. The overlays can be difficult to detect but are often bigger than the original machine and may hide parts of the machine.
ALERT – BE AWARE OF SNAP SCAMS
Applicants for SNAP in Illinois and Iowa should be aware there is NEVER a fee to apply for benefits. Be on the lookout for ads on the internet falsely offering to help fill out applications in exchange for any kind of fee.