Why Are U.S. Veterans at Heightened Risk of Food Insecurity?

by Tamara Dubowitz and Andrea Richardson: For Complete Post, click here…

Last week, with Thanksgiving approaching, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin announced (PDF) a 90-day review of economic strains on military families, including the pressing issue of food insecurity. The National Defense Authorization Act bills in the House and Senate both proposed a “basic needs allowance” to make sure active-duty service members’ income is high enough to feed their families.

U.S. veterans, however, are also at great risk of food insecurity. There is limited understanding of exactly how many veterans lack resources to attain adequate and nutritious food and why. And addressing this problem for veterans likely won’t be as simple a solution as the increased allowances that may help those still on the Pentagon payroll.

Estimates of food insecurity among veterans from before the pandemic varied widely, from 6.4 percent to 24 percent. That highest figure would be more than twice the rate of food insecurity of the general U.S. population. A recent U.S. Department of Agriculture analysis (PDF) looked at data between 2015 and 2019 and found that 11.1 percent of working-age veterans lived in food-insecure households, and 5.3 percent lived in households with very low food security, meaning at least some people in the household were missing meals or eating less than a full meal. Anecdotal reports suggest COVID-19 only made things worse.

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