Times are still tough and no one knows better than the military community just how hard it is to make ends meet. They’re standing in lines in San Diego. They’re waiting outside churches and warehouses in Virginia and in Arkansas for help with feeding their families. Food distributions operated by food banks, churches and other nonprofit organizations across the country are scrambling to fill a need in our military community not seen since World War II.
While thousands of service members continue fighting in Iraq, many of their families are fighting a different battle here at home, hunger. Over the past few years, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) sales at commissaries have grown considerably and food lines have swelled on bases and in military housing units throughout the country. While laws give active-duty soldiers extra combat pay, provide housing allowances and exempt them from some specific taxes, families are still straining under multiple deployments, frequent relocations and the difficulty spouses have in getting and keeping jobs in new cities. When a spouse is deployed, that can leave a single parent struggling to feed their family, and some, like those in the National Guard even have to do it all with a pay cut if the service members former employer is only paying a percentage (if any) of their former income.
It is a tragedy that the men and women fighting for our freedoms and defending democracy are struggling to meet basic needs for their families. Military families know the meaning of sacrifice but they should never have to sacrifice having enough food to feed their children. It’s not easy to put your pride aside, but if you or someone you know is facing food insecurity the following resources can help.
The Family Subsistence Supplemental Allowance (FSSA) program is an additional monthly payment that assists eligible service members with feeding their families.
Service relief societies provide financial assistance for emergency transportation, funeral expenses, medical/dental bills, food, rent, utilities, disaster relief, child care expenses, essential vehicle repair, or any other unforeseen family emergencies. For more information on the relief societies, please contact the Army Emergency Relief (AER), the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society (NMCRS), the Air Force Aid Society (AFAS), or the Coast Guard Mutual Assistance (CGMA).
211 provides free and confidential information and referral. Call 2-1-1 for help with food, housing, employment, health care, counseling and more. They can help you locate your nearest independent food bank or feeding program.
Feeding America has a national network of over 200 food banks that serve the local communities across the country.
Not in need and just want to lend a helping hand? This month you can get involved in the fight against hunger without ever having to step away from your computer. Starting April 9 and continuing through April 30, 2012, Walmart is launching a Fighting Hunger Together Facebook campaign allowing YOU to vote for YOUR community to receive $1 million and 20 runner-up communities to receive $50,000 to fight hunger. The funds will be distributed among several organizations in the most supported communities. Want to do even more? Contact your local food bank and sign up to volunteer or host a food drive or try get involved with local military outreach groups like MOM4USA and make a difference in the life of a military family today!