S.677: Equitable Nutrition Assistance for the Territories Act of 2019
The Equitable Nutrition Assistance for the Territories Act would allow Puerto Rico, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) to participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Currently, each of these territories receive block grant funding for separate nutrition assistance programs that are more limited than SNAP. For example, while SNAP provides benefits to all eligible residents, Puerto Rico’s Nutrition Assistance Program (NAP) has capped funding that leaves many low-income households without benefits. Additionally, benefits under NAP are typically lower than benefits given to SNAP recipients.
In Puerto Rico, the situation became increasingly dire following Hurricane’s Irma and Maria in September 2017. Each year, Puerto Rico receives a block grant of around $2 billion for NAP, and in October 2017, Congress granted an additional $1.27 billion. In November 2018, Puerto Rico’s Governor Ricardo Rosselló requested an additional $600,000,000 to avoid cutting benefits for over one million residents when funds were expected to be exhausted in March 2019. After a political struggle, the funds were eventually granted to Puerto Rico in June 2019. If Puerto Rico, American Samoa, and the CNMI had access to SNAP, Americans living in these territories would receive better benefits and would not have to fight to keep their benefits in emergency situations.
HR 1576 is the House companion bill.View Full Overview
- SNAP supports the well-being of low-income families by ensuring that everyone has access to a healthy diet. Americans living in U.S. territories deserve the same access to these benefits as Americans living in states.
- The National Assembly supports S. 677 because it would ensure better and more consistent nutritional assistance for residents in Puerto Rico, American Samoa, and the CNMI. When every individual is able to reach their full potential, all communities benefit.