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Active duty servicemembers face food insecurity

Feeding America estimates that 29% of troops in the most junior enlisted ranks faced food insecurity during the previous year.
Published: Nov. 17, 2021 at 11:27 PM EST
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - A new report released by Blue Star Families showed that at least 160,000 active-duty service members don’t know where their next meal will come from.

Feeding America has more than 200 locations in the United States, a survey showed that about half of their locations serve active duty military members and their families.

”To pay for food for a family of let’s say four people including, let’s say two kids, there’s not much room,” said Retired Air Force Major Bill Potter.

The group estimates that 29% of troops in the most junior enlisted ranks faced food insecurity during the previous year.

The Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) provides a stipend so families can buy food. Income is one of the factors taken into account when determining who gets those benefits.

”I know some folks that have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan and all those points in the middle east, they’ve really been squeezed,” said Potter. ”The government has always paid the lower-ranking enlisted folks not very well and I got sick of it.”

Some service members, who live off base, are ineligible for SNAP benefits because of the way the government’s formula for SNAP is calculated. It includes their housing allowance as income, labeling their income as too high to receive those benefits.

A study by the Government Accountability Office showed 1 in 4 children at Department of Defense schools is eligible for free meals.

According to the Defense Commissary Agency, those service members who did qualify for SNAP benefits spent over $21 million at commissaries from September 2014 through August 2015.

”Looking and thinking about those individuals specifically who have served so much for our country and then come home and are unable to serve themselves, that’s what we’re here for to pick up that slack where ever they may be in need of assistance,” said Madison Harmon the communications and digital media coordinator at Second Harvest Food Bank.

Second Harvest is hosting a Veterans Mobile Food Pantry on Thursday at the Field of Dreams Activity Center in Dandridge from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

”At the end of the day we’re humans, and every human needs food to survive,” said Harmon.

Any veteran or active duty service member can attend, all that’s needed is a veteran I.D. card or proof of service.

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