MAZON joins Dr. Jill Biden, Lawmakers, and Advocates Urging Solutions to Confront Military Hunger

October 15, 2021

On Thursday, the bipartisan Congressional Military Family Caucus (CMFC) convened a virtual summit to discuss the most pressing concerns affecting military families.

Among the topics discussed was food insecurity, which impacts thousands of military families on every military installation in the United States. First Lady Dr. Jill Biden delivered remarks, urging lawmakers to support legislation to address the obstacles that prevent military families from accessing many of the benefits to which they are entitled — including nutrition benefits. “By supporting a basic needs allowance, we’re going to confront food insecurity and promote well-being in our military community,” she said, adding, “This is a top priority in the Biden administration.”

The U.S. House of Representatives’ version of the Fiscal Year 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) includes a provision that would enshrine a basic needs allowance for military families facing food insecurity into law. This week, MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger sent a letter — co-signed by two dozen national organizations that advocate for military families — to the White House, Department of Defense, and other Administration officials, urging them to use their influence with Congress to close loopholes that currently prevent military families from accessing food benefits. The letter also urged the administration to leverage its executive authority to address food insecurity on military bases and to convene a White House Summit on hunger, including discussions about long-term solutions to military hunger.

Dr. Biden’s remarks signal the White House’s strong support for legislative solutions that MAZON and others have advocated for nearly a decade. Earlier this year, MAZON released a comprehensive reportHungry in the Military: Food Insecurity Among Military Families in the U.S., detailing the pervasive and persistent problem of military hunger and outlining policy recommendations to address this longstanding issue.

A representative from MAZON participated in yesterday’s summit on a panel about food insecurity alongside CMFC co-chair Congressman Sanford Bishop (GA-2).

“It’s just unconscionable that we’re still talking about this issue — an issue that’s grown far worse during the course of the pandemic, but an issue that can be solved,” said Josh Protas, Vice President of Public Policy at MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger. “This is a preventable problem, and this problem is the responsibility of the federal government. It should not be up to the charitable sector to address this. It’s critical that this year’s NDAA includes our full provision for a Military Family Basic Needs Allowance, as outlined in the bipartisan House bill.”

Congressman Bishop emphasized that food insecurity among military families is not merely a dereliction of the country’s moral obligation to its servicemembers, but one that puts national security at risk as well, a concern shared by MAZON and its partners. “Let me be clear — this is not just an issue of conscience. It is a matter of national security,” said Rep. Bishop, co-chair of the Congressional Military Families Caucus. “It is impossible to expect our men and women in uniform to be mission ready when they are worried about putting food on the table for their families.”

Watch the panel on military food insecurity here: