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Last updateTue, 30 May 2017 12am

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    Monday, May 29, 2017-11:45:52A.M.

     

     

     

     

     

Kilili congratulates governor on reaching food stamp agreement

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Office of the CNMI Congressional Delegate) — U.S. Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan offered his congratulations Thursday to Gov. Ralph Torres for his administration’s successful agreement on $30.5 million in new food stamp funding provided by Congress in the Agricultural Act of 2014.

The commonwealth received a letter of approval for its spending plan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Saturday.

“The first $13.5 million became available last fiscal year,” Sablan said, “another $8.5 million this year, and the final $8.5 million becomes available on October 1.

“I worked very hard to get this money into the Act, when I was a member of the Agriculture Committee. So, it is good to see that the commonwealth and the Agriculture Department have now reached agreement on the detailed plan of expenditure that will give more help to more people.”

“I look forward to joining the governor in a roll-out of the new program guidelines later this month,” the congressman added.

People in the Marianas receive less food assistance than other Americans; and Sablan has made equal treatment an issue since first coming to Congress. In 2009, he successfully lobbied the Obama administration to give the Marianas the same 13.6 percent increase provided that year to the national Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, or SNAP. The Marianas is not covered by SNAP.

He was able to add an additional $1 million to the fiscal 2012 Agriculture appropriation to increase benefits further in the Marianas.

And in 2014 Kilili convinced the Department of Agriculture to allow the commonwealth to raise monthly food stamp benefits for Rota and the Northern Islands (a 68 percent increase) and for Tinian (28 percent). “Food costs are higher on Rota, the Northern Islands, and Tinian,” the congressman said. “We needed to help people more on those islands.”

Official agreement on the spending plan for the new $30.5 million came in a letter to Robert Hunter, secretary of the Department of Community and Cultural Affairs, from Jesus Mendoza, Regional Administrator of the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service in San Francisco.

“Secretary Hunter, and especially Walter Macaranas and his team at the CNMI Nutritional Assistance Program, have worked long and hard on this plan,” Congressman Sablan said. “I know they are looking forward to putting their plan into action and feeding people in need.”