Disaster Food Stamp Distribution In CNMI Goes Smoothly

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More than 1,700 apply for assistance; 500 served daily

By Cherrie Anne E. Villahermosa

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, Aug. 21, 2015) – The first day of the disaster food stamp distribution went well, Department of Community and Cultural Affairs Secretary Laura Ogumoro said on Thursday.

The lines were long as expected, but no major problems occurred and everything went well, she added.

"It was smooth and I’m impressed with the organization and the planning and the crowd-control. I have not heard any major complaints from the people except for the long wait, but that is something we cannot avoid."

Ogumoro was at the Nutrition Assistance Program office in As Lito to oversee the distribution .

She said they provided extra care to the elderly people applying for the disaster food stamps, adding that the Red Cross and other volunteers were giving out water to the people waiting in line.

Ogumoro said by 3 p.m. they had accommodated more than five hundred people.

Mary Ann Tudela, NAP administrative officer, said 257 were on-going NAP clients, 250 were new applicants, and 68 had disabilities.

Tudela said they will try their best to accommodate more than 500 people before 5 p.m. each day even though they are only required to accommodate 250 people daily.

She said as of Thursday, 1,750 had applied for disaster food stamps, adding that everyone can apply as long as they are valid residents of the CNMI.

Moreover, an applicant must meet the gross income and resources-limit test. If they don’t meet the gross income limit and resources test, they must submit disaster related expenses that may qualify them for eligibility.

The distribution of emergency food stamps will continue until Aug. 26.

There were around 30 volunteers who helped in the distribution process that started at 8 a.m. on Thursday.

According to a volunteer, people started falling in line as early as 4 a.m.

One of those who was there at 4 a.m. said her turn came at around 3 p.m.

She lives in Garapan and is single. She received food stamps worth $154.

Anther applicant said she had a son and received food stamps worth $282.

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