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Puerto Rico Nutritional Assistance Program faces March cliff

By on December 11, 2018

SAN JUAN – Some 1.4 million Puerto Rico residents are facing reduced nutrition assistance benefits or could lose them entirely in March unless President Trump and Congress provide more funding for the commonwealth’s Nutritional Assistance Program (NAP, or NAP by its Spanish initials), according to a report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

The so-called “March cliff” can be avoided in disaster legislation lawmakers may consider this month in response to Hurricane Michael, according to the center, a non-partisan research and policy institute that works at the federal and state levels on fiscal policy and public programs that affect low- and moderate-income families and individuals.

The consequence of inaction will be that about 100,000 people may lose benefits. Others will see a steep cut.

“For a very poor family of four, for instance, the maximum benefit that currently totals $649 a month will fall to $410, shrinking benefits by almost $60 per person,” the report reads.

NAP benefits do not expand or shrink according to need. It is a block grant under which Puerto Rico gets a capped amount of about $2 billion a year and uses it to provide benefits to very low-income households. The $2 billion, however, isn’t sufficient, the report says.

Gov. Ricardo Rosselló has already asked the president and Congress for another $600 million in disaster NAP funding, which would enable the commonwealth to maintain current benefits for about six more months, according to the report.

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