Veterans

Emery Veterans

#FreedomFromHunger

Our veterans bravely served our country. They fought for our freedom, now we must fight for theirs. We need our elected officials to do more to address the unacceptable problem of hunger among our veterans. Check out our #FreedomFromHunger video and share it to raise awareness.

Take Action

Join MAZON in calling on our elected officials to do more to address this unacceptable problem and ensure our veterans have #FreedomFromHunger.

Click here to write to your Members of Congress to let them know that no veteran should struggle with food insecurity. Urge them to protect and strengthen SNAP and other federal programs that provide vital nutrition assistance to veterans, currently serving military families, children, seniors and millions of other Americans who struggle to put food on the table.

You can also make your voice heard by sending a message on a plate directly to a Member of Congress. Learn more here.

The Reality of Veteran Hunger

Veteran hunger is an under-addressed and often overlooked issue in this country. 1.4 million veterans rely on SNAP and too many other veterans struggle with hunger but don’t get the assistance they need.

Twenty-seven percent of veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are struggling to put food on the table. These veterans suffer from food insecurity at more than double the national rate. Recent studies have documented concerning rates of food insecurity among older veterans, veterans with disabilities, women veterans, and homeless veterans.

Mark circularI'm very proud to be a veteran, but to have protected freedom overseas and then come back home to struggle myself is very disheartening.
- Mark, Kentucky
 

 Read Mark's story. 

 MAZON believes that those who make great personal sacrifices serving in the armed forces should not have to struggle to provide regular, nutritious meals to their families. Yet it is clear that food insecurity is a painful reality for far too many veterans, and government safety net programs are not adequately meeting the needs of those who have served our country. 

MAZON's Response

MAZON works to address the issue of veteran hunger by raising public awareness, engaging congressional offices, partnering with veterans and military service organizations, and working directly with the VA and USDA to better connect veterans to available nutrition assistance resources. We advocate to protect and remove barriers to accessing benefits like SNAP that help veterans keep food on the table.

The best way to prevent hunger among veterans is to protect and strengthen SNAP. It has been repeatedly demonstrated that SNAP effectively reduces food insecurity and poverty rates, contributes to savings in long-term health care costs, and positively impacts health, education, and economic self-sufficiency outcomes.

Harmful changes and cuts to SNAP proposed by the current administration and some leaders in Congress would cut access to lifesaving nutrition assistance for veterans and millions of other Americans struggling to put food on the table – exacerbating the problem of hunger, not reducing it. Efforts to restrict access to SNAP by adding additional severe work requirements will disproportionately impact veterans, many of whom fall under the new proposed age cap. Further, military training may not always translate to civilian work opportunities, so many veterans face barriers to finding and sustaining meaningful employment.

Highlights of our Recent Activities

  • Administrative Advocacy: For several years, MAZON has advocated for and facilitated greater coordination between USDA and the VA with the goal of helping these agencies improve outreach and education about veteran food insecurity. Building upon the relationships developeled through this advocacy, MAZON is working with the VA to design and distribute a brochure for veterans, which addresses food insecurity, stigma about accepting assistance, and assistance programs for which veterans may be eligible.

  • PsychArmor: MAZON launched a new partnership with PsychArmor, a national nonprofit organization that provides free education and support to those working with, living with, or caring for military members and veterans. As part of this partnership, MAZON and PsychArmor will create a series of three, 15-minute online training modules for veterans service providers about food insecurity among veterans and access to SNAP.
  • National Hunger Seder: Using the traditions and symbols of the Passover holiday, we brought together partners and colleagues from Congress, the Administration, USDA, and veterans service organizations to our nation's capitol to raise awareness about the issue of veteran hunger. April 2018

  • Veteran Farm Bill Panel: MAZON’s Vice President of Public Policy, Josh Protas, moderated a Congressional briefing on the 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
  • 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
  • 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 

  • 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

  • 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