Over 1M Illinois families rely on food stamps for Thanksgiving dinner

Over 1M Illinois families rely on food stamps for Thanksgiving dinner

More than 1 million Illinois households will rely on federal food assistance for Thanksgiving. Eliminating the grocery tax could help those relying on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

More than 1 million Illinois families will have turkey on the table this Thanksgiving with federal food assistance, up by more than 200,000 from the months leading up to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program reports show 1,090,637 households in Illinois, or 2,005,472 Illinoisans, received food benefits in September 2023, the latest data available. That’s 16% of the state, or roughly 1-in-6 Illinoisans.

In September 2022, there were 5,624 fewer families relying on SNAP than in September 2023. In the months before the pandemic started, Illinois was below 900,000 families on SNAP. Recipients were also receiving an emergency allotment in addition to their regular benefits up until March 2023, when emergency pandemic policies ended.

The share of Illinois residents receiving food benefits was fifth-highest in the nation for August, the most recent nationwide data available. New Mexico was highest, with nearly 1 in 4 residents using SNAP compared to Illinois being over 1 in 6.

The total amount of assistance to Illinois SNAP recipients was $382,212,051 as of June 2023, the most recent data available, or roughly $350 per household.

One simple step Illinois can take for hungry families is eliminating the 1% grocery tax. Illinois is one of only 13 states that taxes people’s need to eat, and the only state among the 10 most populated with a grocery tax.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker suspended the 1% tax for a year in his election-year budget, and the state could still afford to function. Giving families relief when buying food would earn many thanks.

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