THE UNFORTUNATE CONNECTION BETWEEN MILITARY FOOD STAMPS & ARMED FORCES FAMILIES
By Michael Wang
Military food stamps have provided a lot of people with financial assistance when it comes to purchasing food or groceries at the local exchange or off-base grocery store. Many military personnel have low incomes, and in a worrying trend, an excess number of military members and families are depending on military food stamps to purchase their food and to provide for their families.
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What Are Military Food Stamps and How Are They Calculated?In America, there’s a serious problem with growing inflation. As prices for food increase, families of military personnel have a hard time keeping up with the change. Luckily, there are programs in place to help assist families and provide some financial relief, including food stamps. Can military get food stamps? Yes, food stamps provide families with a monthly allotment so they can purchase food. Calculated by family size, location, and other household incomes, food stamps provide families across the nation the opportunity to stay afloat and combat rising prices for the basic necessities of living. It’s not fair considering their service and their efforts to protect the country from enemies.
Are Military Food Stamps a Real Solution to the Lack of Food for Military Personnel?The lack of attention from the federal government in regard to food insecurity is a growing concern, and though programs like SNAP and the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program are there to help those in need, many people don’t think it’s enough. Desirée Mieir, who’s married to a service member, sought financial help from the military. However, it didn't help her. “My husband and I have taken advantage of resources available to us,” she says. “We’ve met with financial counselors provided by the military. We have done that work.” It’s clear that the existing resources aren’t enough for most military families. Food stamps have allowed families some financial relief; however, with the current state of the economy, it’s becoming more difficult for families to stay afloat. Trying to keep up with the economy and its fluctuations, military food stamps aren't helping military families to their full extent, but there are a lot of people depending on these resources.
More on the Relationship Between the Military and Food StampsThe relationship between the military and food stamps is exacerbated by increasing inflation in the U.S. The Army has faced its own financial road bumps and has instructed Soldiers to go on food stamps instead of offering solutions themselves. Food stamps, provided by the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), provide financial assistance to low-income Americans. Now, that includes service members and their families. The rising inflation makes it extremely difficult for Soldiers and their families to stay afloat in the midst of all the rising prices. Gas, groceries, and rent are a few of the major factors that take a huge chunk of money to sustain that are draining the bank accounts of military families. For those struggling with budgeting and financial planning, Army Sergeant Major Michael Grinston said, “Soldiers of all ranks can seek guidance, assistance, and advice through the Army’s Financial Readiness Program.” The Financial Readiness Program provides free financial counseling for those who are interested. Another resource that members of active-duty military on food stamps can use is what's called the Financial Frontline, a source for military personnel for “educational videos for managing debt, tax resources, financial literacy training, and more.” According to members of the Army, they say that many Soldiers seek financial assistance through the Army Emergency Relief non-profit organization, which “helps service members and their families via grants and interest-free loans.” This is a great option for anyone who needs an extra bit of worry-free assistance during this period of high inflation or any other time. This can be a great resource, but sometimes, no matter how much planning, budgeting, and financial prowess one has, the amount of money they earn simply isn’t enough to keep up with rising prices and other monetary challenges faced by service members today.
Stats for Members of the Military on Food StampsSNAP helps low-income military families on food stamps and determines how much money each family receives in food stamps. According to GAO.gov, “USDA administers SNAP benefits that, according to a 2013 U.S. Census Bureau survey, were used by about 23,000 active-duty servicemembers in the previous 12 months.” In 2019, “more than 22,000 active-duty troops used the food stamp program.” From 2017-2019, SNAP helped about “1.2 million Veterans” across the nation. The SNAP program has helped a lot of military families on food stamps. It’s hard to find more specific data and to see how many military members and Veterans use their military food stamps because the United States Department of Agriculture, “which manages SNAP, does not share the data with the Defense Department.” This is yet another issue the military community is contending with. If we don’t have accurate data to highlight the true extent and severity of the problem, it can be hard to create worthwhile solutions for it in its entirety.
Active-Duty Military Food Stamps Are an Unfortunate NecessityCurrently, “more than 20,000 military families” are in need of food stamps. Additionally, “213,000 members of the National Guard and Reserve and 1.1 million Veterans” are waiting for SNAP to assist them in gaining access to food stamps. With the continued inflation, more and more military personnel are in need of financial support. Military members need assistance from such programs to be able to afford the basic necessities of living. Figuring out a way to solve this problem will be monumental to the progress of relieving families of their financial stress on food instead of simply telling them to go on military food stamps. A well-paid and well-fed military community means a more secure America for everyone, but more importantly, military members deserve better than to be facing food insecurity.
Related read:Veterans Food Assistance Near Me Searches Highlight Food Insecurity
Image: Andriy Blokhin - stock.adobe.com
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