What’s at Stake?
As many as 160,000 active-duty enlisted service members experience difficulty putting food on the table for themselves and their loved ones , and a staggering 29 percent of troops in the most junior enlisted ranks (E1-E4) report facing food insecurity during the previous year. In a recent survey of Feeding America food banks, approximately half serve active duty military members and their families.
There are many factors that contribute to military food insecurity, including occupational licensing issues for military spouses, the low pay scale for enlisted members, and having other financial commitments such as student loans or childcare costs. Food insecurity amongst the military ranks can cause health issues and negatively impact military readiness.
The brave Americans who wear our country’s uniform make sacrifices every day. We have an obligation to ensure they do not worry about whether they can feed themselves and their families. Food banks across the country are stepping up to feed military members and their families on and off base – but food banks cannot work alone.
- Low salaries for enlisted members, high rates of unemployment for military spouses due to the transitory nature of the military, high cost of living near many military bases across the country, and high costs of childcare can make affording enough to eat difficult for many military families.
- One-third of students at Department of Defense schools were eligible for free and reduced-price meals during the 2018-2019 school year.
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) eligibility is treated differently for service members who live off base. This is due to how the Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) is calculated when determining SNAP eligibility, which makes service members ineligible for SNAP benefits. The BAH is the housing stipend that active duty military members receive when they live off base. The amount is based on housing costs in the locality where they live.
 Blue Star Families. (2021). Military Family Lifestyle Survey. Retrieved from www.bluestarfam.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/BSF_MFLS_CompReport_FULL.pdf.