Submitted by Derek Doyle, Military Family Advisory Network.
TACOMA – The Military Family Advisory Network (MFAN) continued its commitment to military and veteran families facing food insecurity by hosting a food distribution near Joint Base Lewis-McChord today.
The drive-thru event held at Cheney Stadium in Tacoma, Washington welcomed over 600 active duty, National Guard, Reserve, and veteran families. Each household received around 50 pounds of nutritious food – including protein, a variety of seasonal produce, breakfast items, canned goods, and household items – all at no cost.
This event is the fifth of its kind held in the South Sound since June 2021 and part of MFAN’s Combat Military Hunger initiative – a nationwide effort to alleviate hunger among military and veteran populations. The campaign provides food support and connects families to community resources, brings together industry leaders to develop long-term solutions, and conducts research to understand and ultimately address this systemic issue.
“Not too long ago, food insecurity wasn’t acknowledged as an issue among military families. It was something that many dealt with privately, afraid of repercussions and stigma,” said Shannon Razsadin, MFAN’s president and executive director. “Through this event, we are honored to not only give back to those who have sacrificed so much for our country but also to make support services and resources more accessible.”
In MFAN’s latest national survey, one in six military family respondents reported being food insecure. This is an improvement on the one in five during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, but worse than the one in eight in 2019. Since May 2021, MFAN and its partners have distributed over 1.2 million meals (and counting) to nearly 10,000 military families nationwide, launched a task force with food industry leaders, and released a first-of-its-kind research report to identify the causal factors of military and veteran family food insecurity.
American healthcare company CVS Health served as the presenting sponsor.
“CVS Health recognizes the unique health and wellness challenges that come from military service and is proud to partner with the Military Family Advisory Network,” said David Lee, Director, Workforce Initiatives at CVS Health. “We have been part of the Washington community for several years and we are committed to supporting the families who live here.”
The JBLM food distribution was also made possible in part by Tyson Foods, who donated a truckload of protein; Nourish Pierce County, who lent industry expertise and staff and secured dry goods; Food Lifeline, who donated fresh produce; and the major suppliers of the commissary, who supplied product.
“We’re proud to support MFAN and its goal to provide meals to military families in need,” said Tim Grailer, Tyson Foods’ senior director, corporate social responsibility. “At Tyson Foods, we strive to help individuals and families gain greater access to resources to end food insecurity across the nation.”
Collaborative efforts like these not only provide food and necessities for our military but help to build awareness and urgency among leadership. In September, the Secretary of Defense issued a memo directing the Department of Defense to strengthen the economic security and stability of service members and their families and the Biden-Harris Administration hosted the first White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health in over 50 years.
Many lawmakers have felt compelled to join the conversation and are working to identify policies and practices that address food insecurity within the military community.
U.S. Representative Marilyn Strickland (D-WA10), a member of the House Armed Services Committee whose district includes Joint Base Lewis-McChord, attended the food distribution. “The last thing service members and their families should worry about is being able to put food on the table,” said Congresswoman Strickland. “I am working to ensure they are food secure, which is why I introduced the Military Hunger Prevention Act as a priority in our annual defense bill. The Military Family Advisory Network does so much to support our military community and I appreciate their partnership in this effort.”
For military families, this is about more than a meal.
“We recently PCSed here and our stuff took months to arrive. Most of it broken or lost. We don’t qualify for help because of my husband’s rank and I stay at home to help my special needs child. This [food distribution] has been a great blessing for us,” said an active duty Army spouse.
To learn more and to join MFAN in helping military and veteran families experiencing food insecurity, visit combatmilitaryhunger.org.
The Military Family Advisory Network (MFAN)’s mission is to understand and amplify the needs of military-connected families and inspire data-informed change. Learn more at mfan.org.
About CVS Health: CVS Health is the leading health solutions company that delivers care like no one else can. They help people navigate the health care system —and their personal health care —by improving access, lowering costs, and being a trusted partner for every meaningful moment of health. And they do it all with heart, each and every day. Visit cvshealth.com.
About Food Lifeline: Food Lifeline, a member of Feeding America, is on a mission to end hunger in Western Washington. They provide the equivalent of more than 282,000 meals every single day through a network of 350 food banks, shelters, and meal programs. Food Lifeline is also working to end hunger for the future by addressing its root causes, including poverty, racial inequity, and social injustice. Learn more at foodlifeline.org.
About Nourish Pierce County: Nourish Pierce County is the largest system of food banks in the county with 23 weekly distribution locations. Everyone in need is welcome and no one is turned away. Nourish’s mission is to provide nutritious food and support services to people in need with compassion, dignity, and respect. Learn more at nourishpc.org.
About Tyson Foods: Tyson Foods, Inc., (NYSE: TSN) is one of the world’s largest food companies and a recognized leader in protein. Tyson Foods innovates continually to make protein more sustainable, tailor food for everywhere it’s available and raise the world’s expectations for how much good food can do. Headquartered in Springdale, Arkansas, the company has 139,000 team members. Through its Core Values, Tyson Foods strives to operate with integrity, create value for its shareholders, customers, communities, and team members and serve as a steward of the animals, land, and environment entrusted to it. Visit tysonfoods.com.