1-in-6 Illinoisans rely on food stamps for Christmas dinner

1-in-6 Illinoisans rely on food stamps for Christmas dinner

Illinois has the 6th-highest number of residents buying their meals with nutrition benefits, and the number grew almost 11% from a year earlier.

More than 2 million low-income Illinoisans will put holiday dinner on the table with Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits this December, the sixth most per capita nationwide.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports 15.9% of Illinoisans – or 1 in 6 – received food assistance in September 2022. The average recipient collected $245 a month.

Data shows 10.7% more Illinois residents are receiving SNAP benefits than during September 2021. Federal food assistance participation increased just 2% nationwide during that time.

While SNAP programs help thousands of Illinois families put food on table each year, rampant inflation and supply chain challenges mean benefits don’t stretch as far for program participants.

A study by Datasembly found holiday dinner prices increased 16.4% from December 2021, raising the average cost for a family meal t0 $60.29. That’s roughly a quarter of program participants’ monthly food budget.

Federal food assistance payments grew 12.5% to match food inflation for the 12 months ending October 2022 and will increase with inflation next October. While benefits have also been expanded under the federal Public Health Emergency, recipients will still bear the costs of any additional price increases tied to inflation between those adjustments.

State lawmakers suspended the 1% tax on groceries until July 1, temporarily offering Illinoisans the same financial relief that residents in 13 other states receive year-round.

Permanently suspending the grocery tax alongside introducing grocery tax credits would guarantee Illinoisans keep benefiting long after the holiday season ends.

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