Final 2024 Defense Bill Must Fully Fight Hunger in the Military

July 27, 2023

Today, the Senate passed its version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which includes a watered-down attempt to address advocates’ concerns about widespread food insecurity among currently-serving military families. MAZON expressed concern about the Senate’s bill, calling on Congress to act more forcefully to bolster the legislation before its final passage.

While taking new steps to strengthen the Military Family Basic Needs Allowance, the Senate-passed version of NDAA did not include a House-approved bipartisan provision that excludes a service member’s Basic Allowance for Housing as counted income toward the Military Family Basic Needs Allowance. MAZON led the fight for Congress to create this new assistance program, which aims to help low-ranking and junior-enlisted military personnel cover their families’ basic needs like food. The program was authorized in the 2022 NDAA, but since then only a small fraction of the 24% of military families in need have been able to access the program.

“By failing to remove bureaucratic barriers for those who serve our country yet suffer the indignity of hunger, the Senate once again missed an opportunity to create meaningful change” said Abby J. Leibman, MAZON’s President and CEO. “Those in power can no longer ignore or dismiss the shameful fact that nearly one quarter of currently-serving military families struggle to put food on the table and continue to turn to food pantries that operate on or near military bases around the country.

“The Senate’s NDAA bill does not do nearly enough to end the national disgrace of hunger in the military. As lawmakers begin the process of reconciling the House and Senate bills, our elected officials have another opportunity to do right by those who sacrifice for our country — MAZON implores leaders in Congress and the Administration to finally ensure military families can access the support they need and deserve. Even one hungry military family is one too many.”

In addition to calling for various improvements to the Military Family Basic Needs Allowance, MAZON is urging Congress to address military hunger in the 2023 Farm Bill by removing a longstanding barrier to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps) that prevents military families from receiving the benefits they need and deserve.

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