A few days ago our nation celebrated the Fourth of July – a time for celebrating our nation’s founding, being grateful for the promise of democracy, and being appreciative of all those whose sacrifices safeguard our freedom.
Yet at this time of celebration, an unacceptable reality goes largely unnoticed: far too many of the brave people who fight on the frontlines are unable to keep enough food on the table for themselves and their families. In fact, as many as 125,000 active-duty service members and their families are facing food insecurity today.
No one serving in our military should struggle to feed their family – but it’s happening right now.
I saw the problem firsthand when I served as the CEO of Feeding San Diego, a Feeding America network food bank. San Diego County has one of the largest concentrations of active-duty military personnel and veterans in the world. The families stationed there do not necessarily choose where they live, but they face the reality of San Diego’s high cost of living regardless. It is a reality faced by military families across the United States.
Beyond living expenses that can stretch a military family’s grocery budget to the breaking point, many other factors contribute to hunger experienced by active-duty military families, including low salaries for enlisted personnel and unaffordable childcare costs. Additionally, the transitory nature of military service means spouses and other family members too often face unemployment or underemployment, further adding to the financial hardship facing so many families.