A topic often difficult for our military community to talk about is hunger among military families. Estimates suggest thousands of our currently serving military and their families may be experiencing difficulty making ends meet. Part of the problem is that no one keeps track of how many military families are touched by food insecurity.
Last month, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report highlighting this challenge and noting that the Defense Commissary Agency reported active duty families used over $21 million in food stamp benefits at military commissaries in 2014-2015.
“This suggest that some people serving our country may be having difficulty making ends meet,” states the report.
Blue Star Families’ Senior Advisor for Policy and Survey, Cristin Orr Shiffer, published an Op-Ed with Abby Leibman, CEO of MAZON-A Jewish Response to Hunger in response to this report. An excerpt is below.
For currently serving members of the military, food insecurity is triggered by a number of circumstances. Some situations — unexpected financial emergencies or low pay — mirror challenges that civilians face. Others are restricted to the reality of military family life, such as unemployment or underemployment among military spouses, the costs incurred as a result of frequent changes of station, and the unique challenges around activation and deployment. For example, the 2015 Blue Star Families Military Family Lifestyle Survey found that 75 percent of military spouses reported that being married to a member of the military had a negative impact on their ability to pursue a career. Seventy-three percent of respondents incurred unexpected expenses as a result of the military lifestyle — with 86 percent of the expenses related to mandated household moves.
The GAO report and the Department of Defense both agree that a better understanding and measure of military families facing food insecurity is needed — which is where you can help!
We want to hear from you. Blue Star Families is supporting efforts to help measure and correct food insecurity among active duty families. If you would like to share your experiences to help us learn more, please fill out the form below. Together we can work to help Congress and the Department of Defense better understand how food insecurity is experienced in our community–and how we can end it!
For questions, please email Cristin Orr Shiffer at http://[email protected]