Jewish group testifies to Congress about hunger in US military families

WASHINGTON (Washington Jewish Week via JTA) — Food insecurity is a significant problem among military and veteran families, the leader of a Jewish nonprofit dedicated to ending hunger in the United States and Israel told Congress.

Abby Leibman, the president and CEO of Mazon: A Jewish Response to Hunger, testified Tuesday before the House Committee on Agriculture’s Subcommittee on Nutrition.

“Across the country, service members were [and still are] showing up at food pantries, sometimes in uniform, looking for help in feeding their families,” Leibman said.

She also said, “While many emergency food providers have responded by developing specific and innovative programs to assist food-insecure military families, most of these organizations are strapped by increasing demands for services in general and have limited capacity to address this population.”

According to testimony provided by Mazon, there is a food pantry on or near every naval and Marine base in the United States.

Mazon said part of the food insecurity is due to federal policies that make lower-ranking service members, especially those with families living off base or in private housing, ineligible for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits. The Basic Allowance for Housing is excluded for calculating some federal programs, like WIC and Head Start, but included for others.

Mazon advocates for excluding the Basic Allowance for Housing for the purpose of eligibility for all nutrition assistance programs.

JTA | January 13, 2016