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Highlighting Military Hunger this Veterans Day

Highlighting Military Hunger this Veterans Day

By Susan King, Feeding Northeast Florida CEO

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – This Veterans Day, Feeding Northeast Florida (FNEFL) wants to acknowledge the courageous men and women who have put their lives on the line to protect and serve. We cannot allow this Veterans Day to pass, however, without recognizing the food insecurity that many veterans and active military are facing in our country today. Of the 40 million people the Feeding America network serves, 20% of those households include veterans or active military personnel. This is unacceptable under any circumstance but even more tragic when you consider the sacrifices these veterans and active-duty military have made on our behalf. 

The Greater Jacksonville USO reports approximately 7,500 of our active-duty military living on the First Coast are food insecure to some degree. Across the country, this number is as high as 7% of active-duty service members (more than 125,000 individuals). In addition, 9% have reported seeking food assistance through a food bank or other organization during the previous year. 

Several factors lead to military food insecurity, including low salaries for young, enlisted members, high rates of unemployment for military spouses, the transitory nature of the military, high cost of living near many military bases, and the high cost of childcare. 

We as a community have an obligation to guarantee veterans and active-duty military who have sacrificed for our freedom have food on their tables. FNEFL is committed to this effort, spearheading programs like our Veteran Meal Boxes and providing resources to local military support organizations. Of our 300 partner agencies, over 160 directly assisted in feeding Northeast Florida’s local military, enabling us to deliver more than 3 million meals to veterans and active-duty military families in 2020. 

In addition, FNEFL partnered with United Way of Northeast Florida, DoorDash, and the U.S Department of Veterans Affairs in 2020 to provide food to homebound veterans and local veteran families in need. As a result of this partnership, 12,000 meal boxes have been delivered, including a variety of shelf-stable goods, fresh produce, dairy, and proteins.

Our efforts are reflected in people like Steve Staples. Staples, a U.S Navy veteran who served for 20 years, found himself homeless after his last tour was complete. With the help of FNEFL and Five Star Veterans Center, he was able to find a home, consistent meals, and renewed hope. 

While the entire Feeding Florida food bank network works to ensure military personnel don’t have to worry about where their next meal comes from, we are only one resource. To do your part in solving military hunger, speak up to your members of Congress and encourage them to take action so veterans and their families don’t go hungry. In addition, you can ask them to support the creation of a Military Family Basic Needs Allowance in the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act. This policy would provide service members, whose income falls below 130 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines, with a monthly stipend.

This Veterans Day, let’s celebrate the men and women who have bravely and selflessly served on behalf of our nation and make sure that no one helping to defend our country should struggle to put food on the table.

For more information about military hunger and how to donate or get involved, visit https://feedingnefl.org

 

About Feeding Northeast Florida (FNEFL)
Feeding Northeast Florida (FNEFL) is one of 12 Feeding Florida food banks. FNEFL provides nutritious foods and other essential goods to those in need, serving an eight-county region (Baker, Bradford, Clay, Duval, Flagler, Nassau, Putnam, and St. Johns). They strive to improve the quality of life for people living in Northeast Florida by addressing food insecurity, poverty, and poor health. 

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