Illinoisans rely on food stamps for Christmas dinner

Illinoisans rely on food stamps for Christmas dinner

This holiday season, nearly 2 million Illinoisans will rely on federal food assistance. Illinois is eighth in the country for highest reliance on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

Nearly 2 million low-income Illinoisans, or 15.6% of the state, will use federal food assistance during the holidays. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports 1,961,613 Illinoisans participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

Illinois is 8th in the nation for highest SNAP participation percentage, according to the most recent data from September.

Illinois also has the highest SNAP participation percentage in the Midwest and among the 10 most populous states. It’s not all bad news: September estimates show a 7% decline in those relying on SNAP benefits compared to August.

Nationwide, the SNAP participation percentage is 12.4% From August 2022 to July 2023, Illinois received more than 5,000 reports of stolen SNAP benefits. This is the first year the Illinois Department of Human Services is tracking SNAP fraud, where real-life grinches steal from someone’s SNAP card.

One way to address food insecurity in Illinois is by eliminating the 1% grocery tax. Illinois is only one of 13 states taxing families at the grocery store, and the only one among the 10 largest states.

State lawmakers suspended the 1% tax during Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s election year budget, temporarily offering Illinoisans the same relief residents of most states feel year-round. Eliminating the grocery tax would guarantee Illinoisans keep benefiting long after the holiday season ends.

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