Examination of Cash Nutrition Assistance Program Benefits in Puerto Rico
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.
Section 4025 of the Agricultural Act of 2014 (PL 113–79) reauthorized NAP and included a provision to phase out the cash portion of the NAP benefit coupled with an equivalent increase in the noncash portion beginning in Fiscal Year (FY) 2017. The law also mandated a study to examine the history and purpose of the cash portion, barriers to redeeming the noncash portion, and use of the cash portion for the purchase of nonfood and other prohibited items. The study must also assess the potential adverse effects for both participants and food retailers of replacing the 25- percent cash portion with noncash benefits. This study fulfills those requirements.