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Re “Service members’ food insecurity is a national embarrassment” (Our Views, Aug. 23): Thank you for calling attention to the long-overlooked issue of food insecurity among military families. For far too long, food pantries on or near almost every military base in this country have been quietly assisting low-income military families whose base pay is insufficient to meet their most basic of needs. It shouldn’t be this way, and it is insulting that the Department of Defense claims that junior enlisted personnel are “very well paid” and pretends that food insecurity is “minimal in the military.”
Even one hungry military family is too many. The sad truth is that thousands of junior enlisted military families across the country regularly struggle to put food on the table, prevented from getting needed assistance from SNAP because of a technical barrier in the eligibility guidelines.
The good news is that Congress can take action to fix this shameful situation. MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger and the National Military Family Association have led national efforts to establish a Military Family Basic Needs Allowance to provide assistance to service members whose households are at or below 130% of the Federal Poverty Level. This provision has been included in the House National Defense Authorization Act. Unfortunately, it is not in the Senate NDAA bill. Senate and administration leaders need to stop turning a blind eye to the hardships experienced by too many families and support this common-sense provision. Hungry military families can’t wait any longer.
Josh Protas, vice president of public policy for MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger, Silver Spring, Maryland