A bipartisan effort is underway in Congress to expand federal aid to hungry troops and their families, according to Roll Call.
Republicans and Democrats are working together in the House and Senate to push for two bills. One would change the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP); the other would alter the Pentagon's basic needs allowance, Roll Call reported.
Some experts note that housing allowances for military personnel can amount to thousands of dollars per year and are counted as income, forcing thousands of troops being unable to qualify for either Pentagon or SNAP aid. The newly filed House bills would exclude housing payments from the income calculations.
Pentagon data reveals about 286,800 active-duty personnel — nearly one in four service members — experience "low food security." The number includes 120,000 who say they are faced with "very low-food security."
Just .08% of the estimated number of food-insecure military families are being helped by the Pentagon basic needs allowance, Roll Call said.
Only about 1.8% of those families receive SNAP, and even when private aid is included, just 14% are getting any aid, according to a January report by RAND Corp.
Sens. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., are leading a bipartisan group of more than a dozen senators to back a bill that would make the change in the SNAP program.
The bipartisan House effort is being led by Rep. Jimmy Panetta, D-Calif.
In November 2021, Feeding America, which coordinates the work of more than 200 food banks around the country, estimated 160,000 active-duty military members were having trouble feeding their families.
According to The Associated Press that estimate underscored how long-term food insecurity has extended into every aspect of American life, including the military.
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