HUNDREDS OF FAMILIES IN CNMI FACE CUTS IN FOOD STAMP BENEFITS

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SAIPAN, Northern Mariana Islands (December 5, 2001 - Radio Australia)---Unprecedented cuts in food stamp benefits may be forced on 1,800 families in the Northern Marianas because of worsening economic conditions in the commonwealth.

The director of the territory’s nutrition assistance program, James Kintol, said cutting the benefits of food stamp recipients is one of only two options left, because of economic problems aggravated by the September 11th terrorist attacks in the United States.

He said the other option is to request additional money from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Since the terrorist attacks, the number of food stamp beneficiaries has increased, and while the program is still operating within its given funding level, Mr. Kintol said his message to the Northern Marianas community is to expect the worst.

For additional reports from Radio Australia, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia.

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