NORFOLK, Va. — Nearly one in four -- 24% of active duty military personnel -- experienced food insecurity at some point in the previous year, according to the most recent Defense Department survey.
Fourteen percent reported experiencing low food security, and 10% reported experiencing very low food security as defined by the parameters developed by the United States Department of Agriculture.
The study found that 43% of enlisted members with an unemployed spouse reported food insecurity.
Feeding America.org reported last month that as many as 125,000 active duty service members and their families may be facing a lack of consistent access to enough food for every person in the household to live an active, healthy life.
The numbers are no surprise to the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore.
"We see military families and individuals, enlisted folks, but mostly families in almost all of the food distributions that we do," said Emma Inman, Chief Impact Officer for the Foodbank. "Military families, who give so much for all of us certainly need and deserve access to fresh, healthy, nutritious food."
Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Gilbert Cisneros, in a message last week said: "The Department remains steadfast in its commitment to understanding and addressing both the causes of and subsequent challenges posed by food insecurity within our ranks."
In its new "Strengthening Food Security in the Force: Strategy and Roadmap" document, the DOD says it will focus on helping service members and families get the food they need, while also improving their economic security over the long term.
Plans include analyzing the Basic Allowance for Housing, improving employment opportunities for military spouses and expanding the availability of affordable child care services.