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USDA Funding Enhances Nutrition Assistance Program in CNMI

Press Release
Release No.
WRO 102621
Contact: FNS Press Team

SAN FRANCISCO, October 26, 2021 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) and the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the CNMI Nutrition Assistance Program. The signing releases a $30 million grant for the Nutrition Assistance Program (NAP), with funds authorized by the American Rescue Plan. These funds are in addition to the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) annual block grant. The MOU will increase benefit amounts for NAP recipients, expand eligibility, and creates a contingency reserve fund – representing a major step toward parity and meeting the nutrition needs of the people of CNMI.

“This new agreement between FNS and CNMI is not only a commitment to good nutrition – it’s an investment in our nation’s health, economy, and security,” said FNS Administrator Cindy Long. “Ensuring low-income families in the territories have access to a healthy diet is an Administration priority and helps prevent disease, supports children in the classroom, reduces health care costs, and more. And the additional money families will spend on groceries will support the CNMI economy.

“The longstanding efforts of Representative Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan, the CNMI’s Delegate in Congress, helped lay the foundation for this progress, and I am grateful for the work of Governor Ralph DLG. Torres and his Administration to make this agreement a reality,” Long said.

With the additional funding, the CNMI Government plans to increase the Maximum Monthly Allotments in the NAP to equal those on Guam under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). In addition, the CNMI Government plans to increase Income Eligibility Standards from 100% of the federal poverty level to 130% of poverty used in SNAP, and standardization of the certification period of all households, except those receiving Supplemental Security Income, to six months. The increase in nutrition assistance funding includes differential benefit allotment levels for Saipan, Tinian, Rota, and the Northern Islands. The MOU also includes funding for a contingency reserve fund that will ensure that CNMI can respond to unanticipated needs.

“I am very pleased with the recent developments that pushes forth the CNMI’s Nutrition Assistance Program block grant requirements akin to SNAP requirements,” said CNMI Governor Ralph DLG. Torres. “CNMI residents can now receive nutrition assistance benefit levels that are equal to Guam, the 48 States, DC and the Virgin Islands. I am also pleased with the ongoing progress that will transition the NAP from coupon benefits to EBT benefits, which we expect to occur in early 2023. These developments are occurring because of the great collaboration between CNMI and USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service.”

Through the years, Americans struggling to put food on their table have relied on USDA’s nutrition assistance programs. They are among the most far-reaching, powerful tools available to ensure that all Americans, regardless of race, ethnicity, or background, have access to healthy, affordable food.

Households in CNMI with questions about nutrition assistance eligibility and benefits should contact the CNMI Nutrition Assistance Program (NAP).

USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) leverages its 15 nutrition assistance programs to ensure that children, low-income individuals, and families have opportunities for a better future through equitable access to safe, healthy, and nutritious food, while building a more resilient food system. Under the leadership of Secretary Tom Vilsack, FNS is fighting to end food and nutrition insecurity for all through programs such as SNAP, school meals, and WIC. FNS also provides science-based nutrition recommendations through the co-development of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. To learn more, visit www.fns.usda.gov.

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10/27/2021