The agency that handles the local food stamp program is expecting an increase in food stamps applicants in the coming months as a result of the government’s austerity measures brought about by the drop in tourism numbers.
Nutrition Assistance Program administrator Walter Macaranas said 2,535 households are currently enrolled in its food stamp program, but he expects the number to rise due to the tough economic conditions the CNMI is experiencing.
Macaranas said people who are currently in the program can continue to receive their benefits, provided they meet the eligibility requirements. A lot more people are expected to apply for NAP benefits due to reduced work hours or some of them may have even been laid off from their jobs.
“We are here as a safety net to provide that assistance so that we are able to provide the nutritional need [and] people are able to subsidize their income for food to put on their family’s table,” said Macaranas.
In addition, people who are currently employed can still check their eligibility for NAP assistance. Eligibility requirements for food stamp approval include must be a U.S. citizen, U.S. national, lawfully admitted permanent resident (green card holders), an alien granted asylum under the Immigration and Nationality Act, a refugee who is admitted in the U.S., and certain aliens whose deportation is being withheld. The other criteria is they need to qualify for resource requirement which means bank accounts should be equal to or below the NAP thresholds. (Chevy Alipio)