Kilili scores 100 percent on food policy
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Food Policy Action announced its 2017 Congressional Scorecard yesterday, awarding a perfect 100 percent to Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP) for his work and advocacy on improving nutrition and making food available to those in need.
“Making sure that people in the Marianas—especially children—have the food they need to grow and to live healthy lives has been at the forefront of my agenda since my first days in office,” Sablan said.
“I appreciate this recognition of my work from Food Policy Action but, more important is knowing that, because of these effort, [children] and others in need in the Marianas are being fed.”
Most recently, Sablan’s inclusion of $32.5 million for the Marianas in the 2014 Agricultural Act has allowed the Commonwealth government to add more households to the Nutrition Assistance Program. There were 2,395 households enrolled in May this year.
With new eligibility standards 2,709 households were enrolled in September. This increase of 314 households translates into approximately 1,036 more individuals now receiving food assistance, as a result of the money Sablan worked for.
Benefits have also been increased. For a household of four on Saipan, benefits were raised from $515 per month to $686. On Tinian, the increase was from $568 to $744. On Rota, benefits went from $719 to $897.
Tinian and Rota receive higher benefits because of the higher cost of food there. Sablan advocated for this benefit differential, which went into effect in 2014.
Sablan’s work on food aid began in 2009, when he succeeded at getting the Agriculture secretary to increase the Marianas annual Nutrition Assistance Program block grant from $10.7 million annually to $12.1 million. He won an additional $1 million in fiscal year 2012 and the $32.5 million now in use in 2014.
“The ultimate goal is to include the Marianas in the national Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, SNAP,” said Sablan. “And the next farm bill, which could come in this Congress, is an opportunity to achieve that.
“Certainly, we will want to continue the funding that is allowing more people to get food stamps in the Marianas and is allowing for increased benefits on Saipan, Tinian, and Rota.”
Sablan said he is actively engaged in making the case for continued funding for the Marianas food program with key members of the House Agriculture Committee.
Sablan forged those relationships, when he served on the Agriculture Committee in the 113th Congress. He was able to bring then-chair Rep. Frank Lucas (R-Oklahoma) to the Marianas in 2014. In February of this year, Rep. Glenn Thompson (R-Pennsylvania), who chairs the Subcommittee on Nutrition, which is responsible for SNAP, also traveled to the Marianas along with Sablan. (PR)