A report from the Northern Marianas says the number of people receiving food stamps from the local government's Nutrition Assistance Programme increased by eight percent last year.
The Saipan Tribune reports that according to NAP director, Eleanor Cruz, the total number of food stamp recipients from October 2005 to September 2006 reached 8,146 - an increase of 633 over the previous year.
Saipan had the highest number of beneficiaries - 7,533.
Rota had 309 and Tinian 287 recipients.
Only the Northern Islands showed a decline, going down from 19 beneficiaries to 17.
The paper says the NAP report cites several economic factors affecting the CNMI, including the closure of several garment factories for the increase.
The report says the cost of food stamps in the year 2006 was more than 7.7 million US dollars