A large number of people in the Northern Marianas who are entitled to food stamp benefits are not receiving the assistance because of a lack of funds.
The Community and Cultural Affairs secretary, Melvin Faisao, says about 500 individuals have been on the food stamp waitlist since May.
He says this is alarming because it indicates that more and more families are suffering from economic hardship.
Mr Faisao says the work hour cuts and massive layoffs of workers in both the private and public sectors are among the reasons for the increasing number of poor families in the Commonwealth.
He says the number on the food stamp waitlist will continue to increase because of the Commonwealth's worsening economic situation.
The government has a total of 9,700 individuals, or about 12 percent of the population, receiving food stamp assistance.