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‘Tis the Season to be Hungry

One writer’s advice for applying for food stamps.

By Uncategorized

Free food is still free, and given the dark economic climate, learning how to access food stamps from the government is a valuable weapon to make life easier. Nutrition Services for those in need have come a long way. The new EBT/LINK cards for the Illinois Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) work like ready-to-swipe debit cards. You can even check your balance online like you would a bank card. Applying for the program can seem daunting, but F Newsmagazine comes to the rescue by sharing valuable tips for applying to the SNAP program from the viewpoint of an experienced user:
  1. Show up to the office in person. Be the first to get there, because it is not uncommon to be turned away if the volume of applicants is too high on a certain day. Getting there 10 minutes before the office opens will save you a useless trip.
  2. You can apply online, but I would advise against it. The SNAP management system is not exactly stellar and chances are high that they’ll never see your application or call you back. If you are lucky enough to get an appointment, they will often schedule it at an inconvenient time (like when you are in class or work), and if you miss your appointment, you will be unable to reapply for several months.
  3. Don’t dress too nicely. The idea is that you don’t have enough money to properly feed yourself, let alone buy hot new kicks.
  4. Be prepared – the more documentation, the better. Nevertheless, the result might depend on how nice or easygoing your counselor is. Some will bust your chops and others won’t even bother to look at your paperwork and just take your word for it.
  5. Be friendly to your counselor. They deal with applicants from all walks of life, all day long. A little empathy goes a long way.
  6. Watch what you say. There’s a catch if you’re a student – you have to work a minimum of 20 hours a week and this employment has to be through the work-study program. If you do not fit into this bracket, consider omitting the fact that you are a student so you are not disqualified.
If you don’t have a job and are not a student, even better. You will look extremely impoverished and your food stamps will be expedited (typically within a week).

To find out more about the Illinois Supplemental Nutrition Program, to read about the rules, and find out where your neighborhood’s office is located, visit


Stuff you’ll need to play

Bring the following to make your application easy:
  • ID
  • Social Security Card
  • Copy of your apartment lease
  • Copy, or at least screen capture of your bank statement
  • 3 paystubs (if you are claiming income)
  • If you work 20 hours a week through work study, bring documentation of your work-study aid.
  • Snack
  • Book (because you will definitely have to wait)

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