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Hundreds of military families receive holiday meals from national organization

Military Family Advisory Network says Hampton Roads is seeing a higher frequency of food insecurity, which is why it is on a mission to help people in the area.

NORFOLK, Va. — While balancing deployments, rotations, and trying to raise children, military families face several challenges. One of those challenges can include food insecurity.

Shannon Razsadin with the Military Family Advisory Network (MFAN) recognized this ongoing problem.

"This area [Hampton Roads] had one of the highest frequencies of food insecurity nationwide," Razsadin said as she worked to help organize food boxes.

MFAN hosted a drive-thru military family food distribution event at the Military Circle Mall in Norfolk on Saturday to help this problem among families.

It's part of the organization's 1 Million Meals Challenge this year. This is the third hosted in Hampton Roads since June. 

More than 750 military households, including active duty, National Guard, Reserve and veteran families registered to receive food support. The event has already reached capacity and families have been asked to join a waitlist.

The pandemic has exacerbated the issue, and in MFAN’s latest national survey, one in five respondents said they were food insecure.

"We expect to hit our millionth this month," Razsadin said. "We are honored to serve these families. We're very proud they are willing to come here and get this food and it makes us proud to help in return."

MFAN teamed up with the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore to get fresh produce to families.

It's something military members, like Norfolk Naval First Class Petty Officer Neil Turner, appreciates. He says while he and his family live comfortably, not every family in Hampton Roads has the same pleasure.

"We rely a great deal on generosity," Turner said as he drove through Military Circle Mall's parking lot. "Stuff like this where it's offered is great because, you know, it's hard for some people to ask."

You can learn more, donate, or sign up to volunteer at a food distribution event through the MFAN website