Illinois households with income up to 200% of the federal poverty level are now eligible to receive assistance with utility bills, rent, temporary shelter, food, and other household necessities.
The State of Illinois just authorized an expansion of the Low-Income Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) program. This expansion will help Illinoisans get emergency assistance to cover costs of utility bills, rent, temporary shelter, food, and other household necessities.
Households with income up to 200% of the federal poverty level are now eligible to receive financial assistance. Increased income eligibility thresholds aim to assist additional households needing support due to COVID-19.
Here are the services covered by this newly expanded financial relief:
Here is the income eligibility chart for these expanded services:
Family Size (total number in household)
30-Day Income Total to Meet Eligibility
Add $747 monthly income per person above 4 people
This new funding means approximately 1 million more residents are now eligible for this program – with about 3.5 million residents eligible in total. For an average family, that amounts to hundreds of dollars.
What documentation do I need to prove eligibility? For each household member, please have the following documents ready to confirm eligibility with your LAA or CAA:
Social security card
Proof of past 30-day income (such as a paystub, check, or copy of check showing fixed income amount [e.g. SSA, VA, DHS benefits] or other proof of documentation for any income source)
Utility bill if seeking utility bill assistance or lease if seeking rental assistance
Residents seeking emergency relief can visit helpillinoisfamilies.com to determine their eligibility and submit a pre-application.
This project will provide relief funds to one of the most underserved populations of the COVID-19 crisis: low-income immigrants who live in Illinois who are not eligible for the federal stimulus package, unemployment insurance, or public benefits.
Recipients of these funds will not be subject to Public Charge.
On 6/6/20, the Northwest Food Partners Network and Kells Park Community Council successfully distributed over 40,000 pounds of produce to our community.
About the Giveaway
On Saturday, June 6th, the Northwest Food Partners Network (NFPN), Kells Park Community Council, and La Casa Norte successfully distributed a shipment of over 1600 boxes of produce to Chicagoans living in Humboldt Park and surrounding neighborhoods.
Strict social distancing and mask-wearing practices were put in place during the giveaway, minimizing the possible spread of COVID-19.
Each box was filled with approximately 25 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables. Altogether, over 40,000 pounds of produce were distributed, promoting the health and happiness of hundreds of households.
Block Club Chicago wrote an article sharing our event, leading to an enormous turnout. Within two hours, all 40,000 pounds of produce were distributed.
In the community we serve, food, socioeconomic status, and health are inextricably linked. During COVID-19, the health and nutrition of our community have become especially vulnerable. Our produce giveaway was an effort to address these vulnerabilities.
Due to layoffs and other unemployment situations, demand at food pantries and hot meal programs in our community has skyrocketed. This April, traffic on NFPN’s emergency food resources page went up 1000% compared to this February.
While donations have risen, finding the PPE and volunteers necessary to safely distribute food has not been easy. Some emergency food providers in our community have been forced to shut down or operate in a reduced capacity during the pandemic. Health concerns have made it difficult for elderly and medically vulnerable community members to safely access emergency food.
By distributing over 40,000 pounds of fresh produce (and practicing social distancing while doing so) we took a small step towards food and health equity in our community. But there’s still much to be done, which is why we are currently coordinating future produce donations and distributions.
Why We Fight Hunger
In terms of food access, health outcomes, and socioeconomic status, the neighborhoods that NFPN focuses on (Humboldt Park, Hermosa, East Garfield Park, Belmont Cragin, West Town, and Logan Square) are among Chicago’s historically underserved communities.
The households we serve are largely located in food and transportation deserts. “L” train stops are few and far between, and supermarkets aren’t as abundant as they are in other parts of Chicago. This makes it difficult for community members to access fresh, nutritious produce.
In addition, household reliance on SNAP (i.e. “food stamps”) in our community is high, as depicted by the map below. Unfortunately, “junk food” often offers more calories per dollar and has a better shelf life than fresh fruits and vegetables.
Severe Housing Cost Burden rates are also well above the citywide average in many of the neighborhoods we serve. Families dealing with severe housing cost burdens are often forced to choose between paying the bills and buying nutritious food. Recent gentrification and soaring rent prices have only exacerbated this issue.
As a result of these and other socioeconomic factors, the community we serve is seriously affected by nutrition-related health issues.
For example, Humboldt Park has a staggering 27.7% child obesity rate, almost 10% higher than the national average. Heart disease—”the nation’s top killer”—causes death among East Garfield Park residents at a rate of 309.4 per 100,000, significantly higher than the national rate of 163.6 per 100,000.
In addition to these health concerns, COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted communities of color in Chicago. Both contraction and mortality rates have been notably higher for black and brown community members.
What Comes Next?
The Northwest Food Partners Network will continue to fight for an end to hunger in our community.
We’ll continue distributing nutritious food to our community and rescuing food that would otherwise end up in our landfill. Recognizing that food access intersects with so many other socioeconomic challenges, we’ll continue to create platforms that spread employment, housing, immigration, finances, and legal help—like our COVID-19 Hub and The NFPN Blog.
We’ve continued to add partners to our network during the ongoing pandemic, and we have no doubt our membership will only continue to expand. As our network grows, so will our capacity to fight—and ultimately end—hunger in our community.
A list of locations offering free meals for families in need this week in response to program stoppages
This blog post was adapted from this article by Block Club Chicago.
Chicago Public Schools suspended its free meal program on Monday, June 1st, but the program will return Tuesday, June 2nd. Here’s a list of CPS meal sites. All previously scheduled meal deliveries will still be delivered. People who want to sign up for future deliveries from CPS can call 773-553-KIDS.
In response to food program stoppages, neighborhood groups and local restaurants are coming together to offer relief. Here is a list of locations offering free meals for families in need this week.
The 40th Ward Neighbor Network will deliver meals from CPS schools to families that need them Monday, according to Ald. Andre Vasquez. You can sign up to help here.
Humboldt Park Montessori, 2540 W. Division St., will have bagged lunches for families needing food starting at 12:15pm until they run out.
Cesar’s Killer Margaritas, 3166 N. Clark St. is distributing boxed meals for families in need from 2:30-4:30 p.m. in light of the CPS news. “We ask you practice social distance, and have a face mask,” the restaurant’s owners posted on Facebook.
Christ Lutheran Church at 3253 W. Wilson Ave is providing food for families. If you can donate, you can bring by groceries before 1 p.m. The most useful items are bread, sandwich toppings, peanut butter & jelly, rice, soups, non-perishables, microwavable meals and fruits (other than apples).
The Rogers Park Community Response Team is working with local food pantries and restaurants for CPS families in need of food assistance. Those in need can contact the response team’s hotline at 773-831-7668.
A small group of people are giving away prepared and canned food 1-3 p.m. Monday ay 3000 N. Kedzie Ave.
39th Ward Alderman Samantha Nugent’s office is also working with neighbors in need of food assistance. Please call her office at 773-736-5594 if you or someone you know is in need.
New Life Community Church at 3729 W. Leland Ave. is giving out food, from 4:30-6:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Mexican restaurant Mi Tocaya — in partnership with Logan Square Neighborhood Association and The Power of 10 initiative — is giving out free meals to Logan Square families in need each week. On Tuesday, the giveaways start at 11 a.m. at Monroe Elementary, 3651 W. Schubert Ave. Check lsna.net for a full pickup schedule.
Teachers and staff at Brentano Math & Science Academy, 2723 N. Fairfield Ave., are giving out food. Contact: (773) 534-4100
GetMyPaymentIL.org can help take you get your stimulus payment as quickly as possible.
Most Illinoisans are eligible for Economic Impact Payments from the federal government. Even if you have no income you are eligible, but you might have to take action to receive your check.
You could receive up to $1,200 ($2,400 for a married couple) and $500 for each eligible dependent.
GetMyPaymentIL.org can help take you through each step so you can get your payment as quickly as possible. It provides step-by-step instructions on how to secure your stimulus check and answers common questions you may have.
Also, the recently IRS announced that it will begin adding 3,500 telephone representatives to answers questions about stimulus checks. People can call (800) 919-9835 with their stimulus check related questions.
Illinois’ Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer program (P-EBT) will provide 316,000 Illinois households with additional funds to replace the meals children can’t access while schools are closed via LINK cards.
Updated 6/23/20 with IDHS P-EBT email address and Illinois Hunger Hotline for help with P-EBT applications in most languages.
Updated 6/19/20 with new deadline: July 15th 2020. Also clarified the fact that applicants are not required to use a Social Security Number.
Updated 6/8/20 with infoabout retroactive benefits and applying by June 30th
Updated 5/26/2020 with info about how to applyand graphics in Spanish and English
Families have to apply for SNAP or P-EBT by July 15th to get any P-EBT. The state will no longer accept P-EBT applications after July 15th. Note: Previously, the deadline to apply for P-EBT was June 30th. That deadline was extended by IDHS.
Note: When applying for P-EBT, you are not required to enter a Social Security Number (SSN)! The application will ask for your SSN, but this is optional. However, inputting your SSN (if you have one) will allow your application to be processed more quickly.
UPDATE: For families who were enrolled in free and reduced price meals in March, if they enroll in SNAP or P-EBT in June, they will get P-EBT benefits retroactive to March – approximately $342 worth of benefits.
CPS families are automatically enrolled in free and reduced price meals. Therefore, all CPS families are eligible to receive P-EBT benefits retroactive to March.
P-EBT provides an EBT card that can be used at authorized retailers to offset the cost of meals that would have been consumed at school.
P-EBT provides the value of school meals at the rate of $5.70 per child per school day.
Who is eligible?
All CPS families qualify for P-EBT Benefits, but must submit an application for P-EBT if they are not enrolled in SNAP!
Households with children enrolled in free or reduced-price school meals, or with a child attending a school that provides all meals for free, can apply directly for P-EBT.
Households at or below 185% of the federal poverty guideline but who are not receiving SNAP or free or reduced-price school meals should first call their child’s school to enroll in free or reduced-price meals and then apply for P-EBT.
CPS families do not need to do this. They should apply directly for P-EBT.
Current SNAP participants are automatically eligible for P-EBT and should see the benefit increase on their LINK card.
P-EBT will be in place until July 15th.
Info for Immigrants and Refugees:
The public charge test does not consider receipt of P-EBT benefits. Using P-EBT benefits will not impact a parent or child’s immigration status.
Undocumented households with school-aged children are eligible for P-EBT.
A Social Security Number (SSN) is not required to apply for P-EBT. The application asks applicants for their SSN, but this is an optional question.
How can I apply?
The deadline to apply for P-EBT in Illinois is July 15th.
Current and newly approved SNAP recipients will automatically see these benefits deposited on their LINK Card.
Those not currently on SNAP will have to complete a simplified application and if approved will be mailed a LINK card. This application can be completed through the ABE Online Application system. Approved applicants will receive a LINK card in the mail.
To apply for P-EBT directly through IDHS, use the ABE Online Application system or call 800-843-6154. There’s also a paper application that can be filled out and faxed or emailed to IDHS – links to the paper application can be found below.
If you have any questions for IDHS, issues applying, or are wrongfully denied P-EBT benefits, you can contact IDHS by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Growing Home’s urban organic farm is currently hiring for its Production Assistant job training program.
Growing Home’s urban organic farm is currently hiring for its Production Assistant job training program.
Based in Englewood, Growing Home is Chicago’s leading expert in farm-based training for people with employment barriers. They know that, when people have jobs, they have economic stability in their lives; this stability allows for healthy people and families. And when communities have access to healthy food options, the overall well-being and health of the residents improves.
Growing Home’s job training program combines time spent working on the on-site urban farm with lessons on work readiness and environmental literacy, an emotional resilience curriculum, and ongoing support for career success post-graduation.
Applicants who are accepted begin with a job training program that pays $16/hour for 16-20 hours per week.
The job training program will be via remote learning due to COVID-19.
Applicants must be 18 years or older, unemployed, and Chicago residents.
Participants are meant to transition into permanent, full-time employment after graduation.
Program participants also have opportunities to earn professional certifications, gain access to free legal consultation for record sealing and expungement, and receive the support of a case manager available to provide referrals for supportive services.
Last Day to Submit an Application: Friday, June 12th 2020
On May 11, the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless will launch a mutual aid fund providing one-time emergency grants of up to $500 to individuals and families experiencing homelessness.
The Chicago Coalition for the Homeless (CCH) hopes to quickly process applications and distribute funds to those hit hardest by COVID-19 and its economic impact. The fund will be overseen and led by a committee of grassroots leaders with lived experience of homelessness.
Individuals interested in applying can apply online or over the phone beginning Monday, May 11 at 9 a.m. through Friday, May 15at 5 p.m.
To apply over the phone, individuals can call and speak to an operator at (312) 641-4148 between 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. Outside of those hours, people can leave a message and will receive a return call to fill out the application.
The online application is available in Spanish, and Spanish-speaking phone operators can be reached at the above number.
For more information, please visit this webpage or view the flyers below.