Congresswoman Susan Davis Re-Introduces Bipartisan Bill to Expand Food Assistance to Military Families

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Washington, DC, February 16, 2017 | comments

Congresswoman Susan Davis (D-San Diego) moved to aid military families being blocked from benefits that help them put food on the table. Rep. Davis introduced the Military Hunger Prevention Act (H.R. 1078) to ensure eligibility for food supplement benefits for servicemembers and their families. Davis was joined by Reps. Lynn Jenkins (R-KS), Jim McGovern (D-MA), Don Young (R-AK), and Tim Walz (D-MN) as cosponsors of the legislation.

“Those who make great personal sacrifices in service to our country should not have to struggle to provide regular, nutritious meals for their families,” said Rep. Davis, a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee. “Unfortunately, an unintended policy barrier prevents military families struggling with food insecurity from getting help from available federal nutrition assistance programs. This is a simple, common sense solution to ensuring that we properly care for our men and women in uniform and their families.”

“For far too long, food insecurity among currently serving military families has been a real and painful reality,” Abby J. Leibman, President and CEO, MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger. “Barriers to access of government safety net programs have left tens of thousands of military families struggling to put nutritious food on the table, turning for emergency assistance to food pantries on or near the military base. MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger believes that those who make great personal sacrifices in service to our country should not have to struggle to provide regular, nutritious meals to their families. MAZON recognizes the extraordinary leadership of Congresswoman Davis to address this issue with the legislation she introduced to remove a major barrier impacting military families.” 

Military families are able to access various federal nutrition assistance programs, and many rely on these programs to make ends meet and put nutritious food on the table. In practice, far too many military families find themselves ineligible for such assistance because the way military compensation and allowances are considered.

The Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH), which is provided as a monthly, regionally adjusted allowance to servicemembers living off-base or in privatized housing, is currently counted as income for the purposes of determining eligibility for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as Food Stamps).

The Military Hunger Prevention Act would prevent housing allowances from being used to determine SNAP eligibility.

Young servicemembers and their children are forced to resort to emergency assistance through community food pantries. There are emergency food distribution programs that operate throughout the San Diego region to serve the needs of military families stationed there. 

The Military Hunger Prevention Act was endorsed by MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger, Western Center on Law & Poverty, Hunger Advocacy Network, Blue Star Families, National Military Family Association, Air Force Sergeants Association, and the Military Health Project.

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