On April 2, Congresswoman Marilyn Strickland (WA-10) joined Representatives Jimmy Panetta (CA-20), Don Young (AK-at-large), Don Bacon (NE-02), Salud Carbajal (CA-24) and Jim Baird (IN-4) in introducing the bipartisan Military Hunger Prevention Act to help low-income military families living with food insecurity make ends meet. The legislation would create a basic needs allowance to support low-income servicemembers who are currently not eligible for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.
“Our military community has not gone untouched by the challenges of this pandemic, including the economic strain it has placed on housing and hunger. The bottom line is that people who serve our country should not have to worry about putting food on the table. The Military Hunger Prevention Act is the investment that our military families need and deserve, and I’m proud to join Representatives Panetta, Young, and Bacon in introducing this vital legislation to put an end to military hunger. Taking care of our military families at Joint Base Lewis–McChord in my district and across our nation is not only foundational to our nation’s readiness, it is also just the right thing to do for those who make sacrifices every single day to keep us safe,” said Congresswoman Marilyn Strickland (WA-10).
“Currently, there are federal regulations that unintentionally cause military families to lose out on SNAP benefits,” said Congressman Panetta. “Our bipartisan Military Hunger Prevention Act would make up for that loss by providing certain military households with a basic needs allowance to purchase groceries. Although it’s unfortunate that some military families have to resort to SNAP, it’s our responsibility to ensure that those families, at the least, have access to the necessary support they need to lead healthy, food secure lives.”
“Our nation’s servicemembers are willing to fight and die for our country, and we should be doing all that we can to ensure that our heroes and their families do not go to bed hungry,” said Congressman Don Young. “Every year, we spend billions to make sure that our nation’s servicemembers are trained and equipped to defend our country. But all too often, we forget about their very real needs at home. No family, and certainly no child, should go hungry. Sadly, that is a reality for too many military families in Alaska and across the nation. Today, I am very proud to introduce the Military Hunger Prevention Act with Representatives Panetta, Carbajal, and Baird. Our bill takes necessary steps to tackle hunger by implementing a Basic Needs Allowance for low-income servicemembers and their families. This legislation also benefits food pantries – which operate on nearly every military base – by reducing demand for goods and produce which already may be in low supply. This is a very good bill, and it comes at a crucial time. The COVID-19 pandemic has shined a light on the issue of food insecurity; we must stand up for those who defend us. Hunger is not a partisan issue, and I call on my friends on both sides of the aisle to join us in this urgently needed legislation.”
“The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the lives of so many military members and disproportionately affected our nation’s junior servicemembers and their families,” said Rep. Bacon. “By addressing this disparity, we will ensure that these young military families have the nutritional resources they need to care for their loved ones and focus on defending our nation.”
“One of our obligations as a country is to take care of those who are serving on behalf of our nation,” said Congressman Baird. “The Military Hunger Prevention Act will ensure our soldiers and their loved ones are provided for and not left behind. It is important we create a support system for those soldiers and their families who are struggling to make ends meet.”
“While the shameful problem of military hunger predates the pandemic, we know that it has only gotten worse as the number of Americans experiencing hunger — including those in the military — has skyrocketed in the wake of COVID-19.” said Abby J. Leibman, President & CEO of MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger. “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. That is why we are grateful to Representatives Panetta, Young, Strickland, Bacon, Carbajal, and Baird for partnering with MAZON to advance bipartisan, long-term solutions to address the systems that allow military hunger to persist in this country. Thank you for reintroducing the Military Hunger Prevention Act — now Congress must pass, and the President must sign, this bill immediately.”
“No servicemember helping protect our country should worry about putting food on their table. Food insecurity becomes a primary focus for those servicemembers with families affected, making it difficult to remain focused on their mission at home or deployed. The Military Hunger Prevention Act is essential to supporting our servicemembers and families. We applaud Reps. Panetta, Young, Strickland, Bacon, Carbajal, and Baird for their leadership and support on this important issue.” said Lt. Gen. Dana T. Atkins, Dana Atkins, USAF (Ret), Military Officers Association of America president and CEO.
“Long before the pandemic, military families struggled to put food on the table. From frequent moves to high rates of military spouse unemployment, the unique challenges of military life left too many families with empty cupboards and empty stomachs. In the last year, those problems have only gotten worse. The National Military Family Association (NMFA) is proud to support the Military Hunger Prevention Act, which will establish a targeted military family basic needs allowance and ensure our troops are able to feed their families. We are grateful to Representatives Panetta, Young, Strickland, Bacon, Carbajal, and Baird for their strong, bipartisan commitment that no military family should go hungry,” said Jennifer Davis, National Military Family Association Government Relations Deputy Director.
Many military families who do not live on base receive a Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) to pay for off-base or privatized military housing. Unfortunately, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) counts BAH as income when considering SNAP eligibility. As a result, low-income military families facing food insecurity are disqualified from this resource and often rely on food pantries and food banks for emergency food assistance. The Military Hunger Prevention Act would establish a basic needs allowance that would allow impacted military households to purchase groceries and be food secure.