Lawmakers have reintroduced a bill that would increase the number of military families who qualify for food assistance.
There are currently thousands of military families who struggle from not having enough food, however many are unable to get assistance due to how eligibility is calculated by the Department of Agriculture.
The bill is called the Military Hunger Prevention Act, and it was just reintroduced by Senators Tammy Duckworth and Marsha Blackburn.
The law would require the USDA to calculate service members’ eligibility from their basic pay, rather than considering their basic allowance for housing ― a striped that helps service members pay rent or a mortgage when they live off-base ― as part of their income.
“Basically, what happens is right now, we know that there are many military families that have to rely on food stamps, that are food insecure, and many more that would qualify for the program, except that they can’t because their BAH was being counted against them,” Duckworth told Military Times on Thursday.
The bill is co-sponsored by a group of 11 bipartisan lawmakers, and has a companion bill in the House.
An E-3 with a spouse and one child is eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, according to the USDA’s chart, but if they live off-base, the money they receive to secure their own housing is counted as part of their overall income.via Military Times
No other benefits are calculated this way by the Department of Agriculture, Sen. Duckworth stated. She simply thinks eligibility should be a level playing field for both service members and civilians alike.
Duckworth first tried to introduce the bill back in 2018 after witnessing the hardships military families were facing with food shortages.
She was volunteering with a food pantry and saw the wife of somebody she knew, who was actively serving, come through.
Her reaction was similar to many Americans: “What do you mean, there are military families that are having to use food pantries? What do you mean, military families need to use SNAP benefits?”
That’s when she decided something needed to be done about the issue.
Duckworth says her legislation will help fix a little part of the much bigger issue of military pay scales and compensation.
Duckworth is also a combat veteran herself who served in the Reserve Forces for 23 years.