MAZON Celebrates Committee Passage of the Military Family Basic Needs Allowance; Urges House Passage

June 13, 2019

MAZON Celebrates Committee Passage of the Military Family Basic Needs Allowance; Urges House Passage

WASHINGTON, DC (June 13, 2019) — MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger celebrates the House Armed Services Committee passage of the Fiscal Year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) bill that includes a Military Family Basic Needs Allowance for low-income military service members. Earlier today, the Committee passed the NDAA bill including this important provision to address the long-overlooked issue of food insecurity among military families, which has long been one of MAZON’s top legislative priorities.

Josh Protas, MAZON’s Vice President of Public Policy, celebrated this victory as an important and long-overdue first step, urging all Members of Congress to support this provision as the NDAA advances through Congress. Protas explained that “the Military Family Basic Needs Allowance will be structured in a streamlined and efficient manner to eliminate common barriers to nutrition assistance including shame, stigma, and fear of retribution. While the provision does not go as far as we would have liked, it is an important milestone in addressing this unacceptable issue. We recognize that the new allowance will not be available to all of the military families who struggle, and there is still work to do.”

MAZON President & CEO Abby J. Leibman said, “Thousands of military families in need find themselves struggling to put enough food on the table every day. It is unconscionable that enlisted personnel find that their pay doesn’t cover their living expenses in the United States. We believe that those who make significant sacrifices for our country should never go hungry. The Military Family Basic Needs Allowance secured by MAZON will help ensure that military families can receive critical assistance to meet their basic needs.”

Barriers to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits have led thousands of military families to seek out food pantries that operate on or near every military installation in the U.S. Leibman noted that MAZON crafted this provision, in part, to meet those needs. Furthermore, ensuring that servicemembers are able to provide the basic needs for their family members eliminates unnecessary stress and anxiety, contributing to optimal mission readiness.

MAZON expressed appreciation to Congresswoman Susan Davis (CA-53) for championing this provision. “Of all the sacrifices military families make, the ability to put food on the table should not be one of them,” said Rep. Davis. “I’m proud to include language in the NDAA to create a basic needs allowance to bridge the gap for servicemembers who don’t qualify for SNAP.”

MAZON led advocacy on this issue in the NDAA together with National Military Family Association (NMFA), an instrumental partner in pushing the provision forward. NMFA Executive Director Joyce Wessel Raezer said, “No family should have to worry about whether they can afford to put healthy food on the table for their children. The Military Family Basic Needs Allowance will provide much-needed support to military families who struggle financially when experiencing the challenges of military life. We thank the House Armed Services Committee for including this provision in this year’s defense authorization and urge the Senate to adopt it as well.”