MAZON Lauds Introduction of Bipartisan Senate Military Hunger Bill

April 30, 2021

With food banks located on or near every military base in the United States, new bipartisan legislation introduced in the Senate late yesterday will address the pervasive problem of military hunger and establish stability for military families to meet their basic needs. The bill implements recommendations from MAZON’s recent report on military hunger. Abby J. Leibman, MAZON’s President and CEO and one of the report’s co-authors, said:

“No one should experience hunger in this land of plenty, but even one military family facing food insecurity is unacceptable. We know that military hunger has gotten worse over the past year, but we also know that this problem predates COVID-19. For many years, military families have been quietly seeking assistance from food pantries and that operate on or near every military base in this country. We welcome reintroduction of the Military Hunger Prevention Act as an important step in ensuring that military families can meet their most basic needs, including enough food on the table. We hope Congress will pass this bill as quickly as possible, and we look forward to working with the Biden-Harris administration to address the structural problems that allow hunger to persist in this country.”

Released earlier this month by MAZON, Hungry in the Military: Food Insecurity Among Military Families in the U.S. finds that unique procedural barriers, increased racial and socioeconomic diversity among junior-enlisted servicemembers, high spousal unemployment, harmful stereotypes around seeking assistance, and the COVID-19 pandemic all contribute to this pervasive problem. 

In the report, MAZON offers several recommendations for how the nation’s leaders must address military hunger, which include enacting the Military Family Basic Needs Allowance that is central to the Military Hunger Prevention Act. The bipartisan Senate bill was introduced by Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN). Upon introduction, Senator Duckworth said:

“Far too many of our military families are experiencing hunger because of unintended barriers that make them unable to access essential nutrition assistance programs. As someone whose family relied on these nutrition programs after my father lost his job, and who served in the uniform for most of my adult life, I’m proud to be working across the aisle to help make sure our servicemembers and their families have enough to eat.”

MAZON also urges the administration to take executive action to ensure housing allowances do not count as income in determining eligibility for federal nutrition safety net programs and implores the government to re-examine military pay levels to ensure they meet the needs of service members. Additionally, MAZON encourages further collaboration between Congress and the administration, anti-hunger advocates, and community organizations to share and publicize data on military hunger to understand the scope of the problem and change the stigmatized narrative around hunger.