MAZON Says It’s ‘Inexcusable’ that NDAA Again Fails to Address Military Hunger

December 14, 2023

MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger today issued the following statement upon passage of the 2024 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) through both chambers of Congress.

“It is inexcusable that Congress once again chose to ignore the needs of military families facing hunger in this year’s NDAA,” said Abby J. Leibman, MAZON’s President & CEO. “By the Pentagon’s own estimate, a shocking 24% of military families experience food insecurity, yet Congress refuses time and again to provide essential support to those who struggle. It is now all the more imperative that the House and Senate Agriculture Committees prioritize real solutions for military families in the next Farm Bill — they must finally remove the longstanding barrier to SNAP that prevents military families from receiving the benefits they need and deserve.”

Earlier this year, the House-passed NDAA included the provision championed by MAZON and military service organizations to exclude a servicemember’s housing allowance from income calculations for the Military Family Basic Needs Allowance, but the conference committee rejected this provision. The final NDAA makes only a minor adjustment to the program, allowing the Pentagon the option to exclude some or all of a servicemember’s housing allowance in certain instances.

“While the provision to modify the Military Family Basic Needs Allowance is a small step forward, it once again shifts responsibility from the federal government and instead places yet another burden on struggling military families who will have to jump through hoops to prove that they need assistance,” said Josh Protas, MAZON’s Vice President of Public Policy. “Since we first uncovered this issue in 2012, MAZON has been urging Congress to help military families access nutrition benefits from SNAP and the basic needs allowance. But now over a decade has passed, and military families still face barriers to these life-saving support programs. We should not have to fight in the halls of Congress or the Pentagon to ensure food security for military families.”