Military and Veterans
Help Our Heroes
MAZON launched our work with members of the military and veterans after our partners (food banks, food pantries and anti-hunger organizations) voiced concerns that a growing number of currently serving military and veteran families are seeking food assistance. Too many service members and veterans find themselves struggling to put food on the table for themselves and their families. Some have completed their military service and now cannot find employment, and others remain on active duty but find that their pay as enlisted personnel won’t cover their basic living expenses, including food. MAZON leads national advocacy efforts on this often-ignored issue because we believe that those who make significant sacrifices for our country should never struggle to put food on the table.
I'm shocked that so many military families are standing in line at the food pantry because they really need help.
- Ashley, California
For several years, MAZON has been leading the national effort on many different fronts: pushing for data so that we can better understand the prevalence of the problem, proposing policy solutions to break down barriers and exploring ways that families can connect with available benefits. Our goal is to remove the real and perceived barriers that prevent veterans and currently serving military families from accessing vital food assistance programs.
While the issue continues to receive periodic public attention, there is much work to be done.
Learn more about MAZON's Veterans initiative here.
Tell Congress to address military hunger in the NDAA!
For nearly a decade, MAZON has made it a priority to understand and address the unique challenges of military families who struggle with food insecurity. It's unacceptable that tens of thousands of service members are shut out of accessing SNAP and other food assistance programs, and must quietly turn for help to food pantries. And now, the COVID-19 pandemic is exacerbating the financial challenges of even more military families.
America's men and women in uniform fight for our freedom; MAZON is fighting to ensure they have freedom from hunger. Please join MAZON in urging your members of Congress to immediately resolve this shameful and long-overlooked problem.
Highlights of our recent activities to address this issue
- Congress Must Act Immediately for Military Families Facing Hunger: MAZON President & CEO Abby J. Leibman coauthored an op-ed in military.com with Ashish Vazirani of the National Military Families Association. The op-ed urges Congress to act to solve the issue of hunger among military families in the next COVID-19 response bill. May 2020
- Congress Must Provide Food Security for Military Families: MAZON President & CEO Abby J. Leibman co-authored an op-ed with Kelly Hruska of the National Military Family Association in "San Diego Jewish World." In the op-ed, they urge Congress to make certain that the food security of miltiary families is ensured in the National Defense Authorization Act.
- Congress must act to fix military hunger in National Defense Authorization Act: MAZON President & CEO Abby J. Leibman co-authored an op-ed in The Hill with Kelly Hruska, government relations director at the National Military Family Association. The piece urged lawmakers to support the Military Family Basic Needs Allowance in the final 2020 NDAA bill. September 2019
- Media Coverage About MAZON’s Leadership on Military Hunger: The long-overlooked issue of military hunger has been gaining media attention, including recent articles in Miltary.com, Military Times, San Diego Union-Tribune, and more. The San Diego Union-Tribune Editorial Board weighed in as well, saying that “one way or another, Congress and the administration must fix this problem.” The Herald-Dispatch in West Virginia ran an opinion piece written by MAZON’s board chair and a member of the state’s House of Delegates. July 2019
- Military Hunger Prevention Act of 2019: Representatives Susan Davis (D-CA-53) and Don Young (R-AK-At Large) introduced this bipartisan legislation to address the long-overlooked issue of food insecurity among military families. Congressman Young issued a statement declaring that “Our Nation’s service members are willing to fight and die for our country, and we should be providing them with the funds and resources necessary to ensure that they can feed their families.” July 2019
- NBC Special Report on Military Hunger: MAZON's longstanding work on the issue of hunger among currently serving members of the military and their families was highlighted in an NBC special report on the Today Show and NBC Nightly News. July 2019
- Military Family Basic Needs Allowance: MAZON recently secured a provision in the House NDAA bill that would help ensure that military families can meet their most basic needs, including food. June 2019
- Letter from 60 Members of Congress to Protect SNAP for Veterans: MAZON worked closely with the House Veterans Affairs Committee to draft and circulate a letter from Members of Congress urging USDA to rescind its proposed rule change to restrict SNAP for certain individuals who struggle with food insecurity, including veterans. May 2019
- Comments to USDA about SNAP Waiver Rule Change Proposal: Just days after passage of the bipartisan 2018 Farm Bill, the Trump administration proposed a rule through USDA to crack down on existing work requirement waivers for SNAP. MAZON submitted comments and developed materials about how this rule change proposal would have a particularly negative impact on veterans, who often face unique challenges in securing and maintaining full-time work. March 2019
- #FreedomFromHunger Video Campaign: In honor of Veteran’s Day, MAZON produced a video about the unacceptable problem of veteran hunger in America and delivered #FreedomFromHunger plates to legislators in Washington, urging them to advance policies that help veterans and others who struggle to put food on the table. November 2018
- Farm Bill Proposal Gets Military Food Stamp Policy Wrong: MAZON featured in Op-Ed with Blue Star Families on how Farm Bill's proposals could pull the rug out from under millions of Americans, among them thousands of currently serving members of our nation's armed forces. April 2018
- Veteran Farm Bill Panel: MAZON’s Vice President of Public Policy, Josh Protas, moderated a Congressional briefing on the upcoming Farm Bill and programs benefiting food insecure veterans and veteran farmers. January 2018
- Statement: MAZON Applauds VA Action to Address Veteran Food Insecurity: As a result of MAZON’s urging, for the first time, care team members at Veterans Affairs (VA) facilities will be required to screen for food insecurity among veterans coming for care. October 2017
- Farm Bill Listening Session Testimony: Erika Tebbens, a former military spouse who struggled with food insecurity, urges Congress to address hunger in the military at Farm Bill listening session. October 2017 (Read Erika’s Congressional testimony before Congress two years prior).
- Statement: MAZON Condemns Chairman Mike Conaway’s Blocking Amendment to Help Military Families; Implores He Reverse Course: The oversight in the current legislation leaves tens of thousands of servicemembers turning in desperation to food pantries to feed their families. July 2017
- "Hunger, Nutrition, and the Military: Are We Fit to Fight?" Panel: Sat on briefing and panel discussion put on by The Friedman School of Nutrition Science & Policy at Tufts University and the House Hunger Caucus. March 2017
- Why we need Congress to help more military families qualify for food aid: Op-Ed in The San Diego Union-Tribune with Representative Susan A. Davis. February 2017
- Military Hunger Prevention Act of 2018: MAZON works with Rep. Susan A. Davis [D-CA] to introduce a bill to exclude the BAH from counting as income for determining eligibility for SNAP. The bill currently has 61 bipartisan congressional sponsors. February 2017
- Statement on Nomination of David Shulkin as Veterans Affairs Secretary: MAZON welcomes President-elect Donald Trump’s nomination of Dr. David Shulkin as Secretary of Veterans Affairs. As undersecretary for health at the Department of Veterans Affairs – an appointment by President Obama in 2015 – Dr. Shulkin has increased the department’s efforts to identify and address hunger among veterans. January 2017
- Military Hunger Prevention Act of 2016: If enacted, this legislation will make a meaningful difference to the tens of thousands of currently serving military families who struggle with food insecurity yet face a needless barrier to accessing the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). November 2016
- Military Hunger Summit: This summit convened 24 military service organizations, public officials and anti-hunger organizations to address the unique challenges faced by active duty military and veteran families. June 2016
- Ensuring Veteran Food Security Work Group: After advocacy efforts from MAZON, the VA initiated this working group to better coordinate VA efforts, develop and pilot food insecurity screening tools, establish a process for SNAP referrals and enrollment, and create partnerships with community groups to better support veterans’ needs. April 2016
National Hunger Seder: Using the traditions and symbols of the Passover holiday, we brought together partners and colleagues from Congress, the Administration, USDA, and military and veterans service organizations to our nation's capitol, reaffirming together our commitment to ensure that all who are hungry can come and eat. April 2016
Webinar Training for VA Social Workers : In partnership with USDA Food and Nutrition Service, this accredited training on Veteran Food Insecurity and SNAP will be offered to more than 12,000 social workers and dietitians in the VA system. March 2016
- Government Accountability Office (GAO) report on food insecurity among active duty military families : Our advocacy efforts initiated this study, and we are a primary advisor on available data, suggested research and site visits. Early 2016
- MAZON testified before Congress: Abby J. Leibman was called as an expert witness on hunger among military and veteran families. Watch testimony. January 2016
- National Hunger Commission Advances MAZON Recommendations: All three of MAZON’s recommendations included in Mia Hubbard’s June 2015 testimony were included in the National Hunger Commission’s final report. January 2016
- Congressional Briefings on Veteran Food Insecurity : Co-hosted by Reps. Tim Walz (D-MN) and Lee Zeldin (R-NY) and Sens. Al Franken (D-MN) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) in partnership with The American Legion, USDA Food and Nutrition Service and University of Minnesota - School of Public Health. November 2015
- Veterans Day Twitter Chat: In partnership with MomsRising and Military Officers Association of America, our #FoodFri chat raised awareness about food insecurity among active duty military and veteran families. The chat had over 1,000 tweets and reached almost 700,000. November 2015
National Commission on Hunger Testimony: MAZON’s VP of Programs, Mia Hubbard, was invited to testify before the National Commission on Hunger. She urged them to do more to address hunger among active duty military families and veterans by: Demanding more data to accurately document food insecurity levels; Removing policy barriers that deny active duty military families the nutrition assistance resources they need; Urging agency collaboration to ensure disabled veterans are able to access food benefits. June 2015
- National Defense Authorization Act amendment: MAZON helped craft a bipartisan amendment to help struggling military families access SNAP benefits. The amendment was not included in the final bill, BUT did help call attention to the long-ignored issue of hunger among military families. June 2015
- Amicus Brief: MAZON filed an amicus brief in The American Legion et al. vs. McDonald, to argue for improved access to the benefits veterans have earned. The brief argues that a Veterans Administration final rule placed onerous barriers between disabled vets and the benefits they seek, including SNAP. May 2015
- VA Chaplains Webinar: MAZON’s Director of Government, Josh Protas, led a webinar to a group of VA chaplains nationwide. This first-ever webinar about food insecurity for this group of VA staff covered SNAP awareness and the barriers that veterans face when accessing benefits. June 2015
- FIX FSSA: MAZON called on the Department of Defense to significantly reform its Family Subsistence Supplemental Allowance, a nutrition support system for those on active military duty who are unable to provide enough food for themselves and their families. January 2015
Congress must act to fix military hunger in National Defense Authorization Act
The Hill | September 12, 2019
A food insecurity crisis afflicts military families
Military Families | July 23, 2019
This proposal would give more money to military families struggling to put food on the table
Military Times | July 18, 2019
Should Low-Income Military Families Get a Food Allowance? White House Says No
Military.com | July 18, 2019
A new bill would help keep low-income military families from going hungry. The White House isn't on board
Task & Purpose | July 18, 2019
San Diego congresswoman’s effort to address military family food insecurity faces hurdles
San Diego Union-Tribune | July 17, 2019
Why are many of America's military families going hungry?
NBC News | July 12, 2019
Why so many veterans go hungry — and VA's new plan to fix it
The Washington Post | October 9, 2017
Why we need Congress to help more military families qualify for food aid
The San Diego Union-Tribune | February 23, 2017
Davis seeks food help for enlisted military families
San Diego Jewish World | February 16, 2017
Congresswoman Susan Davis Re-Introduces Bipartisan Bill to Expand Food Assistance to Military Families
Susan Davis Press Release | February 16, 2017
Abby J. Leibman & Cristin Orr Shiffer: An inexcusable hunger
The Virginian-Pilot | July 10, 2016
Military families sacrifice for us; can’t we feed them?
San Diego Jewish World | March 28, 2016
Nonprofit targets food insecurity in military
Washington Jewish Week | February 3, 2016
To the U.S. House Committee on Agriculture: Keep our troops fed
The Jewish Journal | January 21, 2016
Military Commissary Food Stamp Use Drops
SpouseBuzz | January 14, 2016
Jewish group testifies to Congress about hunger in US military families
Jewishva | January 13, 2016
Jewish Charity Testifies To Congress About Hunger in US Military Families
Forward | January 13, 2016
Jewish group testifies to Congress about hunger in US military families
Jewish Telegraphic Agency | January 13, 2016
Food Stamp Formula Shouldn't Factor in Housing Allowances: Advocates
Military.com | January 12, 2016