Military and Veterans
Help Our Heroes
MAZON launched Help Our Heroes 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. As our servicemen and women begin returning in greater numbers, many 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 living expenses in the United States. We pursued this often-ignored issue because we feel strongly 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.
Tell Congress to end hunger for military families now!
Those who make significant sacrifices for our country should never struggle to put food on the table. Our elected officials must do more to address this unacceptable and long-ignored problem.
Highlights of our recent activities to address this issue
- 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 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
- H.R.1078 - Military Hunger Prevention Act: 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: 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) research study 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
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