Food Stamp Use among Military Families Hits Record High
The use of food stamps at military commissaries continues to rise, with nearly $104 million in food stamps redeemed in those stores in the fiscal year that ended September 30, according to CNN Money.
Those using food stamps are usually families of those in the junior enlisted ranks with children. Pay for the lowest ranks starts at about $20,000 a year plus housing and medical benefits.
The use of food stamps by military families has been rising since 2007. In 2011, the most recent year for which the U.S. Department of Agriculture had data available, about 5,000 military families were on food stamps.
“I’m amazed, but there’s a very real need,” Thomas Greer, spokesman for Operation Homefront, a nonprofit that helps members of the military with financial problems, told CNN Money.
Part of that need was brought into focus by the results of a survey by the Military Officers Association of America. That study showed that about 30% of active-duty military spouses aged 18 to 24 are unemployed. It’s often difficult for military spouses to find jobs because of the frequent relocation required by the military. That survey also showed that 90% of military spouses are underemployed, that military spouses make an average of 38% less total personal income, and are 30% more likely to be unemployed than civilian counterparts.
In 2013, Operation Homefront received 2,968 emergency requests for food help, although that figure is down from 2011 levels.
“When there are unexpected disruptions for a family with a junior [enlisted] member, it can become a challenge to put food on table,” Greer told CNN Money. “Cost of food remains a very real challenge.”
In early February, President Barack Obama signed the farm bill (pdf), which will cut $8.7 billion from the food stamp program (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP) in 15 states and the District of Columbia. Those recipients—about 47 million Americans—will lose about $90 a month.
To Learn More:
Food stamp use among military rises again (by Jennifer Liberto, CNN Money)
A Reminder: Military Families Use Food Stamps (by Rick Paulas, KCET)
Food Stamp Use by Military Families on the Rise (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
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