Analysis: 15% of Illinois residents enrolled in food stamps program
Approximately 1.9 million Illinoisans – or about 15 percent of the state’s population – were on food stamp rolls in January 2017, according to a Prairie State Wire analysis of 66 Illinois welfare offices.
Cook County serves 43 percent of Illinois food stamp recipients, according to data obtained from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which administers the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly known as food stamps. That’s slightly higher than the portion of the state’s population the county represents. Approximately 41 percent of the 12.8 million people in Illinois reside in Cook County.
Illinois welfare offices are operated by the Illinois Department of Human Services, formerly known as the Illinois Department of Public Aid. It administers SNAP at offices in 52 of the state’s 102 counties, so residents in a county without an office have to travel to one with an office.
Those 52 counties account for approximately 92 percent of the state’s population. This may, in part, account for why the portion of SNAP participants in a given county is higher than the portion of Illinois residents living in that county.
For example, Kendall County residents are directed to Aurora in Kane County for services such as SNAP.
This may explain why Kane County’s two welfare offices serve about 8 percent of the state’s SNAP recipients, though its population amounts to a little more than 4 percent of the state’s total population.
Illinois counties' share of SNAP recipients
|County population||Recipients population
|County as portion
of state population
|County office recipients as portion of state SNAP participants|
|St. Clair County||264,052||46,402||2.06%||2.48%|
|Rock Island County||146,133||23,573||1.14%||1.26%|