DCCA crunching figures for CNMI-wide NAP coverage

NAP prioritizes monthly recipients

The Department of Community and Cultural Affairs, the local government agency that administers the Nutritional Assistance Program in the CNMI, is looking at moving around benefits in order to allow a one-time relief distribution to CNMI residents.

“The NAP is going to carry out its regular issuance this week,” said DCCA Secretary Robert Hunter in an interview with Saipan Tribune. Hunter did, however, clarify that NAP would continue to provide assistance to those who are under the program, and that rumors suggesting otherwise are not helping.

According to the DCCA secretary, they would be looking at some of the figures before submitting a request to the FNS to allow for disaster relief assistance.

“We are going to be putting a request to the FNS…to address any possibility of disaster NAP assistance. The FNS does not look upon itself as an immediate source for disaster food assistance; that is just not their thing,” he said.

Hunter noted that FNS has a certain number of days before responding to requests for disaster food assistance and that it might take awhile before NAP can issue food assistance NMI-wide. He further noted that besides having to work within the current budget allotted to the CNMI in NAP monies, the CNMI NAP is looking at moving around benefits so that those under the program are not under-served.

“What we don’t want to do is give one-time assistance and then see us not be able to accommodate the households that need NAP assistance all year-round. We have to work within the budget we use now to accommodate beneficiaries,” he said.

Hunter said he recognizes the need for assistance islandwide in regards to NAP, however, he said that it would be highly dependent on how much funding remains with FNS.

“…There are three areas where [FNS] does approve these kinds of requests for additional assistance and two of those are only for NAP beneficiaries,” he said, adding that they were the replacement of NAP benefits for when exchanged food was either lost, destroyed, or spoiled due to the lack of refrigeration; the approval of supplementary benefits for NAP recipients not receiving maximum benefits per household; and a one-time benefit to every single household in the CNMI, which was the most costly one.

“Whatever we do, whatever scheme we are able to come up with and get approved by FNS depending on how much resources we have available to us, it has to be something that won’t affect the annual benefits to households,” he said. “…For a one-time food benefit, we cannot jeopardize the entire NAP.”

False rumors

 In a Yutu Rumor Control advisory yesterday, the Office of the Governor belied the rumor that Disaster Food Assistance will be provided to all Saipan residents this Thursday, Nov. 1, 2018.

“This is completely false,” the advisory stated.

It said that NAP will be issuing the regular benefits to current beneficiaries as scheduled. The issuances will be carried out as they have been in previous months.

“If you are not a current Saipan beneficiary of food stamps, you will not be able to receive food assistance by visiting the NAP office on Thursday, Nov. 1,” the advisory states.

That means only current Saipan beneficiaries of food stamps should go to the NAP office in As Lito on Thursday.

For current beneficiaries of food stamps, the Tinian issuance for current beneficiaries took place yesterday, Oct. 30.

The Rota issuance for current beneficiaries will take place today, Oct. 31.

The Saipan issuance will take place from Nov. 1 to Nov. 4.

Gov. Ralph DLG Torres and NAP is currently working with FNS on the details of a one-time disaster assistance food benefit. The details of this will be made available as soon as a plan is approved by the FNS, and public announcements will be made to inform the public prior to the implementation of any such issuance.

Until such time, everyone is being urged to pay close attention to official releases, bulletins, and announcements from the CNMI EOC State Warning Point, CNMI Office of the Governor, and the CNMI Joint Information Center. (PR)

Erwin Encinares | Reporter
Erwin Charles Tan Encinares holds a bachelor’s degree from the Chiang Kai Shek College and has covered a wide spectrum of assignments for the Saipan Tribune. Encinares is the paper’s political reporter.

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