Food insecurity major issue for those who serve
Many of us go to the grocery store each week with our list in hand, buying all the food and drink essentials we need. We grab items off the shelf and put them in our cart without a second thought, going up and down the aisles until we have everything we need.
We easily swipe our card at the register without wondering how much money may be in our bank account and then head home to unload our groceries, well stocked for another week.
This isn’t the scenario for everyone though.
Food insecurity is a major issue in our country, and sadly, it has worsened due to the COVID-19 global pandemic.
Unfortunately, members of our armed forces are not immune to the issue – and may lack access to enough nutritious food to keep their families active and healthy.
There are several reasons leading to these food struggles for military families. Key findings from Hungry in the Military: Food Insecurity Among Military Families in the U.S.
- At least part of the problem stems from an unintended barrier to assistance for struggling military families — counting a servicemember’s housing allowance as revenue in determining eligibility for federal nutrition programs like SNAP (formerly food stamps).
- Junior-enlisted members are more diverse in race, ethnicity, and gender than higher military ranks. They are also supporting families at much higher rates than previous cohorts of servicemembers. The Pentagon has not adequately adjusted the base salary to reflect the reality of our modern military force.
- The circumstances that give rise to food insecurity among military families are complex, yet simplistic responses based on unfounded stereotypes are often lifted up ahead of more meaningful responses.
- In the last year, COVID-19 has exacerbated the unique financial challenges of military families, such as high rates of spousal unemployment, access to affordable child care, and frequent relocation.
Military families often rely on two incomes like many non-military American families. Unfortunately, the unemployment rate among military spouses has been high for many years.
There is a dire need to assist these military families, not only those on or near military bases, but in communities nationwide.
According to the Hungry in the Military
article, those who face food insecurity and turn in desperation to food pantries are not bargain hunting — they are trying to survive. Further causing an issue for military families is still that deep and persistent sense of shame and embarrassment in needing help.
Coming up in May, National Poppy Day® (May 28 this year) is a perfect opportunity to use poppy funds to help provide for these families. A few ways poppy funds can be used to assist is for essentials such as food, gas, baby items like diapers, wipes, and formula, school supplies for both children and parents, and for medicine.
When we are pushing our grocery carts around our local stores and have the ease to pay for items without thinking twice, remember those in uniform who are serving our nation and struggling to make ends meet.
Work with your local American Legion Auxiliary unit on poppy fund donations that can be used for our military families. They sacrifice so much for us so we can have the freedoms we do! They should not have to worry about having enough money to pay for basic items.
We encourage all ALA members to use their unit poppy funds to help our nation’s heroes and their families.
Salaries earned by enlisted personnel in this country should be enough to meet their families’ needs. Those who make significant sacrifices for our country should never go hungry.
For more information on how you can get involved, visit www.ALAforVeterans.org
By Sara Fowler, Staff Writer