The Pentagon pledged to help military families affected by food insecurity. Some say help is not coming soon enough.


Navy woman Abigail Kennedy is relieved that her children are too young to know why they’re going to a food raffle.

“We go to events like this to help build our inventory during difficult times,” said Kennedy. “Our kids ate cheerios some days because that’s all we had.”

The military family has lived on paycheck after paycheck for nine years. Her family is one of nearly 700 families who received food from the Military Family Advisory Network giveaway. On the day Kennedy visited him, the nonprofit gave each family 60 pounds of frozen chicken and products.

Abigail Kennedy
Abigail Kennedy with her children.

CBS news

“When we see these cars go by and see kids in the backseat – yes, we shouldn’t have to host food-distribution events like this,” said Shannon Razsadin, director of the Military Family Advisory Network.

An estimated 160,000 military families struggled to bring food to the table in 2020, according to Feeding America, a network of blackboards and food programs that feed the hungry. Troops in the junior ranks are particularly vulnerable to food insecurity – nearly 30% need help.

The problem was exacerbated by a regulation by the Department of Agriculture preventing families from receiving benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Basic military housing allowance – money used to pay rent – is counted as income and prevents needy families from receiving government food benefits.

CBS news first moved into the spotlight the food insecurity of the US military in February. Low wages, frequent moves, high spouse unemployment in the military, and a stigma that appears to have arisen from denial all added to this problem – but that’s slowly changing.

For the first time, the Department of Defense has commissioned a 90-day combat plan: identify hungry military families and connect them with help.

“Our uniformed men and women and their families have enough to fear,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said on November 17. “Basic needs such as food and housing should not be included.”

But Kennedy is skeptical. “I would be very, very surprised if we saw something within the next year,” she said.

Shannon Razsadin, director of the Military Family Advisory Network, helps distribute food to families in need.

CBS news

Kennedy credits the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society for providing financial aid through its Quick Relief loan program in times of need.

“You are so nice,” she said. “We actually used that, I think twice, and it was a lifesaver.”

Most families who were helped by the Military Family Advisory Network’s food service will need help again. You can only live on resilience for so long.

For those who would like more information on how to help military families, visit:

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