Hunter: No indication food stamps affected by federal shutdown

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Posted on Jan 17 2019

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The CNMI Nutritional Assistance Program is likely to remain unaffected by the partial federal government shutdown currently plaguing the U.S. mainland, according to Department of Community and Cultural Affairs Secretary Robert Hunter.

A statement from the administration Gov. Ralph DLG Torres noted that NAP benefits for February 2019 would be issued as scheduled starting Feb. 1, 2019 through Feb. 7, 2019.

“We have no indication that there [would be] issues for future funding for our NAP,” Hunter said in an interview. He noted that the block grant funding granted to the CNMI’s NAP and Enhanced Nutritional Assistance Program amounts to a total of about $20 million a year.

The program currently provides assistance to 3,062 households in the CNMI consisting of 8,385 eligible individuals—7,735 of which are individuals receiving assistance on Saipan, 370 on Tinian, 272 on Rota, and eight in the Northern Islands.

“We are covered at least until the end of March 2019, but we work off of a block grant,” he said. “We function outside of the regular Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program,” he continued. SNAP is the program other states and territories use for assistance.

Hunter yesterday noted that he believes the need for a contingency plan is unnecessary, especially since the program is funded through a block grant on an annual basis.

“I don’t think we are going to go unfunded for NAP and even for SNAP—they are still giving out benefits for people,” he said. Hypothetically, he said, the fall back if ever NAP goes unfunded is through local government appropriations, which he added is highly unlikely due to the significant amount.

“So far the word we received is we are fine… The communication I received is we are covered financially for NAP benefits,” he said. “Especially now, when there are still a lot of people struggling,” he continued, referring to the destruction Super Typhoon Yutu brought to Saipan and Tinian last October 2018.

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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