African American girl smiling at camera while getting tray of food

Making healthy choices is not always easy, especially when families are struggling financially. University of Illinois SNAP-Ed provides practical healthy eating and physical activity solutions for Illinois families and participates in strategic local, regional, and statewide partnerships to transform the health of Illinois communities.

We work with individuals and families who qualify for or receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits to help their food budgets and other agencies, schools, and organizations that serve them. In 2021, we worked in 315 communities in 89 Illinois counties.

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic continued to impact SNAP-Ed programming, since many places in Illinois had not opened up their doors again to external partners. Illinois SNAP-Ed has successfully pivoted by expanding digital education and messaging to reach our families with healthy nutrition and activity messages and resources.

2021 SNAP-Ed Reach

  • 137,367 total educational class contacts: adults and youth

  • 2.6 million educational contacts through nutrition messages and digital education, such as through websites, social media, text message, or e-newsletters

  • 1,396 community agency partnerships

The goals for Illinois Nutrition Education Programs are also the goals of Illinois SNAP-Ed:

  • Improve healthy eating and physical activity choices of limited-resource Illinois families to reduce the risk of chronic diseases
  • Increase access to healthy foods for Illinois families to reduce food insecurity
  • Create community collaborations and partnerships focused on obesity prevention

Across Illinois, SNAP-Ed is provided by University of Illinois Extension and our staff work out of Extension county offices to serve their communities. In the city of Chicago, SNAP-Ed is led by the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Chicago Partnership for Health Promotion.


four women standing at a long table preparing ingredients for homemade pizza

Helping families, transforming communities

  • SNAP-Ed provides engaging, face-to-face or virtual classes and events, online resources, and healthy messaging strategies to help Illinois families choose healthier foods, beverages and activities.
  • By partnering with agencies, schools, and community organizations, SNAP-Ed achieves greater collective impact on communities and helps save money by limiting duplication of services.

At the Our Lady of Guadalupe Food Pantry in Chicago, Illinois SNAP-Ed provided tools and materials for setting up a healthy client choice pantry. Client Choice is a style of pantry that gives the client control over what foods they will take home to their families. Some non-dairy items like almond milk are provided, and frozen items like meats are stored in a freezer then put out for client choice. Shelf-stable items are displayed on an open, rolling cart to get it in and out of the pantry. SNAP-Ed also provided colorful signage to promote healthier items in the pantry to make the healthy options more attractive.

The Sheldon Heights pantry in Chicago has recently adopted the Supporting Wellness at Pantries system since working with Illinois SNAP-Ed. SWAP is a system for ranking nutritious, healthy foods to stock, label, and promote foods at the pantry. The food pantry supports the health and well-being of their community by increasing the number of healthy foods in the pantry. SNAP-Ed provides further support with nutrition education and recipes for pantry clients. "The [clients] are now using more of the garbanzo beans because we have been providing the recipe to make hummus," stated Denetria Adams, Illinois SNAP-Ed team member.


four female staff members standing behind a table. on the table are four buckets to collect food waste from cafeteria labeled with different parts of the meal

SNAP-Ed program offerings for community, agency, and school partners

Click on the highlighted text to learn more.

Interactive, engaging nutrition and healthy lifestyle classes and events for individuals and families

Professional development training for agency or school staff and volunteers

Promoting healthy choices through policy, systems, and environmental changes


recipe cards clipped to a sign that says recipe of the month with ingredients in basket below, canned tomatoes, chili powder, ground beef, rice

Illinois SNAP-Ed successes

Read more SNAP-Ed success stories by visiting our News and Stories page here.
  • Over 8 in 10 adults who attended SNAP-Ed classes shared they will make a healthy change to their eating habits
  • Illinois SNAP-Ed helped 266 partner locations make changes to nutrition policies, systems, or layouts and operations to make healthier choices easier and more accessible for Illinois families
  • In 2021, SNAP-Ed participated in 107 multi-sector coalitions representing 1,416 organizations and community members. Coalitions work together to make changes across communities, allowing for greater reach of families. 

Southern Illinois residents have increased access to fresh and perishable food items due to SNAP-Ed’s involvement with local food pantry network, the Southern Illinois Food Pantry Network, and facilitation of donations for refrigeration and freezer units. The need for increased cold storage was identified from an initial food pantry manager survey that was conducted to identify food pantry’s needs to support health food access. As the lead of the SIFPN, SNAP-Ed created, distributed, and evaluated the survey results. This original survey was used to learn about area food pantries, identify their top needs, and work collaboratively to meet these needs to support healthy food procurement and distribution at food pantries.

Aetna Better Health donated $138,000 towards 51 refrigeration and freezer units to 34 food pantries in the area. In addition, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois awarded cold food storage equipment grants to multiple area food pantries. 

One community partner shared, “As a result of receiving our new freezer and refrigerators, we now are able to store even more fresh and frozen foods. It is so nice to be able to distribute healthier and fresher foods to our clients without the fear of having to throw out produce at the end of the day due to lack of cold storage space.”


To connect with SNAP-Ed in Illinois, please fill out the Contact Us form here. We will share your request with the SNAP-Ed team nearest to you!