Honoring Our Veterans Means Making Sure They Don’t Go Hungry
November 8, 2019
By Paige Pokorney
Veteran’s Day is a time to respect, honor, and uplift the millions of men and women who have served our country. However, life after service can be a struggle for many veterans, with some not knowing where their next meal will come from. A recent study published in the journal Women’s Health Issues found that 27.6 percent of women veterans were food insufficient. A 2015 study published by the Centers for Disease Control showed that nearly half of homeless or formerly homeless veterans reported food insecurity, and over a quarter ate just one meal a day, on average.
In D.C., a disproportionate percentage of veterans struggle with food insecurity, with 11 of veterans receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Benefits (SNAP) benefits, compared to 7 percent of veterans nationwide. The good news is that local organizations take veteran food access seriously. D.C. has many great government and community programs to provide veterans with access to food, employment services, and housing support. One such organization is the local nonprofit Community Foodworks (CFW), which operates the Veteran’s Farmers Market Partnership.
The Veteran’s Farmers Market Partnership connects low-income veterans with fruits, vegetables, eggs, and meat at their 13 farmers markets and two farm stands across D.C. and Virginia. CFW works with case and social workers from the D.C. Veterans Affairs Community Resource and Referral Center to distribute $15 vouchers to at-risk veterans for use across the CFW network. Case workers are best equipped to allocate the vouchers depending on each veteran’s personal circumstances. Vouchers are also distributed to participants of nutrition and cooking classes at the D.C. Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Another goal of the program is to incentivize the use SNAP at markets where CFW matches their benefits. With programs like CFW’s Veterans Farmers Market Partnership and SNAP matching, veterans are able to multiply the impact of their benefits and gain access to nutritious, affordable food.
SNAP is a proven program to reduce food insecurity and improve health and wellbeing, but SNAP benefits for most households are not enough to get through the entire month without hunger. Increasing SNAP monthly benefit amounts would give low-income veterans and their families the ability to purchase enough healthy food to last the month. Veterans deserve no less.