Thousands of military families struggle with food insecurity

SAN DIEGO,-- This hidden crisis has been brewing for years in one of the world's most financially secure institutions. It has only worsened since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. Around 160,000 military personnel are struggling to feed their families.

Thousands of military families struggle with food insecurity

SAN DIEGO,-- This hidden crisis has been brewing for years in one of the world's most financially secure institutions. It has only worsened since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. Around 160,000 military personnel are struggling to feed their families.

Feeding America coordinates more than 200 food banks across the country. This estimate shows how food insecurity has impacted every aspect of American society, even the military.

Due to lack of formal research, it is still a matter of debate as to the exact extent of the problem. However, activists claim that it is a problem that has been around for many years. It mainly affects junior-level enlisted personnel (ranks E1 to E4 military parlance) and their children.

Vince Hall, Feeding America's official government relations officer, said that "It's an alarming truth that's known by many food banks across America." "This should cause deep embarrassment."

According to the group, 29% of the troops in the youngest enlisted ranks were affected by food insecurity in the past year.

James Bohannon (34), a Naval E4 (petty officers third class) from San Diego, said, "It's what it is." He relies on food assistance for his two daughters.

After a drive-thru food distribution, he stated that he knew what he was signing up for in military service. "But I won't lie. It's really difficult."

Military spouses are often forced to move frequently due to the low pay and insufficient benefits for junior enlisted rank. Many are afraid to talk about their problems because of the culture of self-sufficiency within the military.

This problem is exacerbated because a obscure rule by the Agriculture Department prevents thousands of military families from accessing SNAP, also known as food stamps.

It's not something that Americans know, but military personnel are familiar with it. This is something we know," stated Sen. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, a Democrat and ex-Blackhawk pilot who was both injured in a helicopter accident in Iraq. "We are the most powerful military on the planet, yet those on the lowest rungs of our military ranks -- if they are married with children or not -- are hungry. How do you keep your eyes on the mission and defend our democracy? Are you worried about your child getting dinner tonight?

Meredith Knopp is the CEO of a St. Louis food bank and an Army veteran. She said that the problem affects all branches of military service. She remembers as a young officer in Texas being approached by a private with a baby.

She said, "They were about to cut off his electricity because they couldn't pay their bills." It was shocking to me.

Perhaps the best indicator of how deeply the problem is rooted is the fact that a strong network of military-adjacent charities organizations, such as the Armed Services YMCA or Blue Star Families, has created an infrastructure of food banks close to major domestic bases.

San Diego is a potential epicenter of this phenomenon due to its high housing prices and proximity to multiple military bases. Brooklyn Pittman, whose husband Matthew is in the Navy was shocked by the financial shock that came with moving to California this year from West Virginia.

She said, "We had some savings and then we moved here and it was hard." "We still had student debts and everything on top."

Their savings vanished quickly and the little income she earned from dog-sitting couldn't even cover the shortfall. The couple thought about sleeping in their car at the base until they got their next paycheck.

Pittman was among the 320 families that participated in the Armed Services YMCA's October drive-thru food distribution. This event was being held for over ten years. However, the organization expanded its operations from six to eleven sites across the country when the pandemic hit. The frequency of events in San Diego has been doubled.

You need to login to comment.

Please register or login.

RELATED NEWS