‘CNMI food stamps unaffected by SNAP changes’
Department of Community and Cultural Affairs Secretary Robert Hunter assured that the CNMI Nutritional Assistance Program, which is under DCCA, will be safe despite proposed changes to rules for availing of food stamp benefits.
Hunter said that the local NAP will not implement any changes to its eligibility requirements.
He informed Saipan Tribune last Friday that CNMI NAP is different from the National Supplementary Nutritional Assistance Program. “If the proposed changes were to actually see implementation, they would not affect our Nutritional Assistance Program or Enhanced Nutritional Assistance Program,” he said. “The decisions that affect SNAP will most likely not affect NAP.”
About 4,410 families in the CNMI avail of NAP benefits.
Last July 22, the U.S. Department of Agriculture proposed a new rule seeking to tighten automatic eligibility requirements and closing a “loophole” that allowed people receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF, benefits to automatically be enrolled in the SNAP program in the U.S. mainland. TANF, a federal assistance program, helps pay for food, shelter, utilities, and expenses other than medical expenses while the SNAP provides financial aid for food.
NAP administrator Walter Macaranas also assured that the food stamp program will not be affected because NAP does not offer a TANF program and run on a separate block grant. Macaranas said there is only one way for automatic eligibility, and that is for recipients of the Social Security Office’s Supplemental Security Income, or SSI, with recipients receiving a minimum allotment.
USDA estimates that 1.7 million households—3.1 million people—will not meet the eligibility of SNAP benefits under the new rule changes.