Data & Research
Assessing the Feasibility of Implementing the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands
Section 4031 of the Agricultural Act of 2014 required a study to determine the feasibility of operating SNAP, or an alternative model of benefit delivery, in the CNMI. This report assesses the CNMI's capacity to administer SNAP in six key SNAP program areas; describes potential barriers to implementing SNAP and modifications that might be needed; and explores which elements of SNAP could be implemented under the existing block grant structure.
The Nutrition Assistance Program (NAP) in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico provides a monthly benefit for food to low-income households that includes both cash and noncash portions. Three-fourths (75 percent) of the benefit must be redeemed for eligible food items through electronic benefit transfer (EBT) at certified retailers. The remaining 25 percent may be redeemed in cash. The entire benefit (both the noncash and cash portions) is to be used only for the purchase of eligible food items.
Over the last decade, food stamp participation rose more sharply than expected following the relatively short and mild recession in the early 1990s and fell more sharply than expected after 1994 during the sustained period of economic growth. Report language accompanying the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 2001 directed the Food and Nutrition Service to study the decline in participation in the Food Stamp Program.
This report explores the feasibility and potential cost of enabling EBT systems to differentiate between program-eligible and ineligible items. It considers the cost of upgrading systems in stores that now have scanners and the cost of installing new systems in stores without scanners. The report also examines the potential for the purchase of ineligible items even with the introduction of new technological controls.