(Office of the Governor) – Governor Ralph DLG Torres announced on Wednesday morning that the Food and Nutrition Department of the United States Department of Agriculture and CNMI have signed a memorandum of understanding that will provide $ 30 million to the nutrition assistance program of the CNMI and will increase the amount of benefits for PAN beneficiaries, expand eligibility, and create a contingency reserve fund for the CNMI, as of November 1, 2021.
Governor Torres noted that residents of CNMI can now apply for nutritional assistance income eligibility levels that are equal in Guam, the 48 states, DC and the US Virgin Islands.
“I am pleased that our hard work to ensure that low-income families at CNMI have access to this essential food assistance has borne fruit,” said the governor.
“This is a major achievement for our employees, and I am also delighted with the progress underway that will move the NAP from coupon benefits to EBT benefits, which we expect to happen in early 2023. These developments are occurring due to the great collaboration between CNMI and the USDA Food and Nutrition Service, and I would like to personally thank SNSF Administrator Cindy Long, SNSF Western Regional Administrator Jesus Mendoza , CNMI Secretary for Community and Cultural Affairs Joseph Deleon Guerrero, CNMI Nutrition Assistance Program Administrator Walter Macaranas, and the wonderful staff at the NAP office, ”added the Governor.
With the additional funding under the MOU, the Torres administration plans to increase the maximum monthly allocations in the NAP to be equal to those in Guam under the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program or SNAP. . In addition, the administration was approved to increase the income eligibility standards from 100% of the federal poverty level to 130% of the poverty used in SNAP, and standardization of the certification period of all households, to with the exception of those who receive additional security income, at six months. .
As an example, the income limit for a household size of 4 has been increased from a gross monthly income of $ 2,184 to $ 2,871 or $ 34,186 per year. This will be implemented from November 1, 2021, which should allow more households to qualify under the new standards.
Community and Cultural Affairs Secretary Joseph P. Deleon Guerrero said it was a milestone for the administration, DCCA, NAP and the people of CNMI.
“This is monumental, and it brings us, our CNMI residents, to the level of benefits that SNAP grantees receive in Guam and most of the SNAP states. We are grateful for the governor’s continued support and collaboration with our SNSF counterparts to further improve the PAN CNMI, ”said Secretary Deleon Guerrero.
NAP Administrator Walter Macaranas called this an exciting step for CNMI with other developments underway for the NAP office for the benefit of the Commonwealth.
“We have worked tirelessly and tirelessly with the management and the SNSF team to continue to develop and improve the NAP program. We are currently working on the EBT project which we plan to renew in early 2023 or earlier. I would like to thank all the staff at NAP for their continued hard work in providing assistance and service to our residents in need, ”said the Macaranas administrator.
The maximum monthly allowance for a household of 4 is $ 1,231 in both Saipan and Guam. Due to the higher cost of living on Tinian and Rota, CNMI was allowed to implement differential allocations, similar to how it is implemented in Alaska. This meant that the maximum allowances for Tinian would be higher than for Saipan due to the higher cost of living. Rota would definitely be higher than Tinian or Saipan because of the very high cost of living. For comparison, the maximum allocations on Tinian and Rota are essentially higher than the maximum allocations on Guam.
Households eligible for NAP benefits in November 2021 will see their benefits increase slightly from the amount they received in October.
The increased funding for nutrition assistance includes differential benefit allocation levels for Saipan, Tinian, Rota and the Northern Islands. The MOU also includes funding for a contingency reserve fund that will allow CNMI to meet unforeseen needs.