Marianas Variety

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    Monday, April 23, 2018-11:59:11P.M.

     

     

     

     

     

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NAP plan to extend increased income eligibility and increase benefit levels approved

(Department of Community and Cultural Affairs) — The Nutrition Assistance Program recently received approval for its requested revisions of the ENAP plan. 

These include an extension of the increased eligibility level an additional year and an increase in benefits, among a number of other amendments.   The revision of the plan was a result of meetings late last year with the Food and Nutrition Service or FNS and their reassessing projections of beneficiary levels. 

The adjustments to benefit levels will be implemented on May 1 of this year.  Benefit levels under the amended plan will be comparable to Guam levels, with adjusted higher benefit levels for Tinian and Rota, due to higher costs of food on those islands.

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Income eligibility standards have increased 55 percent between 2015 and 2018. A household size of four was limited to monthly gross income of $933 in 2015, this income eligibility level has been increased to $1,451.

Saipan benefit levels will be up 83 percent compared to benefit levels in 2015. Tinian will be up 76 percent, while Rota will be up 60 percent. The maximum benefit for a single household has increased from $154.00 per month in 2015 to the current $283 on Saipan, $299 on Tinian, and $344 on Rota.  The maximum benefit for a household of four has gone from $515 in 2015 to the current $944 on Saipan, $998 on Tinian, and $1150 on Rota.

Other adjustments to the ENAP plan include, keeping minimum increased benefit levels for fiscal year 2018 consistent through fiscal year 2019, keeping increased income eligibility levels for year two through year three, retaining ENAP staff through 2020, extending business hours for certification units as necessary to provide for additional accessibility, implementing additional outreach activities, utilizing ENAP funds for eligibility system equipment.

The NAP is also in the process of identifying space on Rota and Tinian, and satellite issuance offices on Saipan in the northern and eastern areas of the island.  Additionally, the NAP eligibility system currently under construction is scheduled for completion in January 2019, after which the NAP will be issuing a  request for proposal for the EBT card (electronic benefits transfer) system.  The card system will see the end of the issuance of paper coupons, making the management of benefits simpler and the identification of fraud easier.

The NAP will continue to work closely with the FNS to ensure the ENAP is managed with their guidance and approval, and to address the need for future adjustments as necessary to the program.  The next assessment of the ENAP and most recent amendments to the plan will be held in July in San Francisco between the CNMI NAP and the FNS.  The CNMI NAP has met all of the goals of the ENAP plan to date, and is on schedule with the development of the eligibility system.