Food is at the heart of the military community. Whether it’s family readiness potlucks, chili cook-offs or meal trains when babies are born, there’s always a reason to bring food to a friend or new neighbor. However, one in six military families cannot put healthy meals on the table regularly. Food insecurity is a significant issue facing the military community, and it’s time to discuss it.
Food Insecurity and the Military Community
Food insecurity is one of the top issues advocated by the Military Family Advisory Network, or MFAN, and has been for the last few years. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) defines food insecurity as “a household-level economic and social condition of limited or uncertain access to adequate food.”
One in six military and veteran families experience food insecurity, according to the 2022 MFAN Survey. These families experience a combination of factors contributing to their food insecurity, such as the challenge of spouses finding employment, rising cost-of-living prices, growing families and unexpected expenses. Many of these things happen simultaneously, especially following a military move.
While those struggling with food insecurity may not want to talk about it with their neighbors and friends, there is a way for those in the military community to help.
These struggles don’t end when the service members leave the military. Current estimations report more than 1.4 million veterans are currently food insecure. A recent RAND study, in conjunction with the Department of Defense, indicates that 70% of veterans over 70 who don’t have enough to eat aren’t using the programs available to help them.
This statistic aligns with a report from the USDA that 59% of income-eligible veterans are not using the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The question is, why not? Is there still a stigma attached to asking for help? Do they need help navigating these programs?
“By raising awareness about food insecurity and supporting efforts to remove barriers to accessing food, we can help find a solution for this nationwide challenge,” said Mary McDuffie, Navy Federal Credit Union president and CEO.
What Is the No Plate Left Behind Program?
While those struggling with food insecurity may not want to talk about it with their neighbors and friends, there is a way for those in the military community to help. Just as you wouldn’t leave a battle buddy behind, a service member or military spouse does not want another family to go without food.
The No Plate Left Behind program is one easy way to raise awareness and help fix it. Navy Federal Credit Union and Feeding America -- a nonprofit with a nationwide network of 200 food banks that feed more than 46 million people -- have created this virtual way to help fill a plate with food for a military family.
“Unfortunately, hunger is a reality for millions of people across the country, including one in four active-duty service members,” said Lauren Biedron, senior vice president of corporate partnerships at Feeding America. “We’re grateful for dedicated partners like Navy Federal Credit Union, who are committed to supporting food banks that work daily to make it easier for service members, their families and communities to receive the food they need to thrive.”
By visiting the No Plate Left Behind website, you can fill a plate digitally, selecting from various food items. When you check out, your donation goes directly to Feeding America.
You can also donate $5 per plate to help feed military families. Each $5 donation provides 50 meals to those who need them. One hundred percent of donations go to Feeding America food banks with large military populations in their service areas.
Join Navy Federal Credit Union and Feeding America to help care for military families facing food insecurity today by visiting No Plate Left Behind and donating or sharing this information with others.