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PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (May 31, 1998 - Samoa News)---The waiting period is almost over. In a matter of weeks, close to 1,200 local food stamp recipients who were purged from the program as a result of U.S. government amendments to the food stamp law will be reinstated.

The same change will take place on the U.S. mainland and in all other U.S. territories.

Many U.S. Congressmen successfully lobbied for the return of welfare benefits for eligible foreign nationals.

Last week Congressman Eni Faleomavaega declared in a press release that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has confirmed there are no longer any obstacles on the federal side to the restoration of food stamp benefits.

Approximately 1,200 foreign residents in American Samoa had their benefits cut as a result of U.S. welfare reform.

Clearly pleased with the news, the Congressman stated, "This has been a complicated process and I am very happy that we were successful in securing a waiver to allow American Samoa's food stamp program to restore these benefits.

Governor Tauese Sunia's office reported that an amended version, as required by federal authorities, is being put together. And once it is approved in a matter of weeks, the 1,200 recipients, who are foreign nationals residing in American Samoa, primarily from neighboring Samoa, may be back on the food stamps roll in June.

The Congressman explained in his press release that USDA officials were waiting for information from the American Samoa Government in order to amend the Memorandum of Understanding governing the food stamp program in the territory.

Stories from the SAMOA NEWS, American Samoa's daily newspaper, may not be republished without permission. To contact the publisher, send e-mail to samoanews@samoatelco.com

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