UNLESS USDA SENDS APPROVAL TODAY
Households under the Nutritional Assistance Program of the Department of Community and Cultural Affairs may not be able to claim their benefits for this month yet due to uncertainty in the federal budget.
While benefits are usually released beginning the first day of the month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service Office directed states to hold the October issuance of NAP benefits.
“The USDA Food and Nutrition Service Office has informed all states with the direction to hold SNAP issuance files for October 2015 until further notice. The same direction was provided to the CNMI to hold issuing October  NAP benefits until further clarification is provided,” a statement from the NAP said.
“This is a prudent step FNS is taking as part of contingency planning in the event of a federal shutdown. While FNS is optimistic an appropriation will be passed (via a continuing resolution), FNS needs to do due diligence and this step allows maximum flexibility as they consider contingency plans,” the statement adds.
As of press time yesterday, NAP director Walter Macaranas said they are still waiting for approval.
“The recipients will have to wait for the clarification from the USDA Food and Nutrition Service when we can proceed with the implementation for fiscal year 2016,” he said.
Macaranas said the release of benefits depends on the approval of the grantor agency, which is the USDA.
“We will hold until we get an approval from the grantor agency,” he said.
NAP is requesting for the patience and understanding of all NAP households until further clarification and appropriation of funds has been provided to the CNMI.
Should the NAP Office receive the approval, Macaranas said they will release food stamps right away.
“If we receive [the] approval by today, we will release those benefits,” he said.
A delay in the release of benefits may affect households counting on food stamps as many are still recovering from Typhoon Soudelor.
To date, a total of 2,847 households are scheduled to receive benefits for the month of October, a number higher than those who claimed benefits in August prior to Soudelor’s impact.
Macaranas said he expects those numbers to increase in the succeeding days.
“Those numbers will go up because we have received new applicants and we will receive other applicants also for the month of October,” he said.