Friday, April 30, 2021

Food Insecurity


Food insecurity is a topic my blogger friend Mae has been writing about since 2007, and possibly even before.  She primarily focuses on a local food bank that helps people in her community with food insecurities.  In several of her posts, she offers staggering statistics, many of which pertain to children.  I urge you to visit her blog, fittingly called Mae's Food Blog and search for the phrase "food insecurity."  You will be surprised and amazed if you are not familiar with the work she has done to bring this problem to the blogging community's attention. 

One thing Mae doesn't touch on however, is food insecurity in the military.

I was recently reading about the problems with food insecurity in the military and how it affects the children and their mothers who live stateside.   The article went into great detail about the various reasons the military are very often food insecure.

One thing that caught my attention was changing demographics.  For years and years, most enlisted men were 18 to 21 and single.  They often lived on base wherever they were stationed.  They had many of their needs met, including their meals, and they spent most of their extra money on things young people in the military used to buy: beer, whiskey, gambling, cigarettes, women, and drugs.

Times have certainly changed, but military rules have not.  Now most military service people are older, are married, and have at least one or more dependents.  When not in country, they leave their families behind to survive on what pittance the government pays them.  When in country, they share the same problems of food insecurity.  Many end up borrowing from their parents, siblings, or other family members just so they can put food on the table.  Food is often one of those items that takes a back seat to other bills.
Oftentimes a second income is not possible.  Take for instance the wife who has an advanced degree in elementary education.  She can never work in one place long enough to ever accrue retirement benefits.  She would move wherever her husband is stationed, so would lose any retirement benefits she may have received at her previous employment.  
It's even harder for women with only a bachelor's or no degree.  Their chances of finding sufficient employment that would cover babysitting and other expenses make it hard for them to justify working outside the home, especially if they have several children.
It's no secret many military bases are located in cities with high costs of living.  Granted, the military pays for housing, whether on base or not.  However, and this is the rub, that housing allowance counts as income.  That added "income" often keeps military families from qualifying for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). 
The USDA estimates that in 2019, there were only 22,000 active duty service members in households that received SNAP.  

That's why many military families now

depend on food banks to help feed them.

I admit that I find this disturbing.  Our military protects and serves us, yet cannot put healthy food on their tables.  I hope this is something you consider when you give a gift to a military family.  Fresh fruit, veggies, and milk will all be welcome I'm sure, since most food banks get donations of canned goods and "junk food."  If you live anywhere near a military base and you can afford to do so, please donate what you can.  If you are unable to donate money or fresh fruits or veggies, consider donating your time to package and distribute the food to these deserving military families.  One final thing you can do is join the Campaign to End Hunger.
All food and drink images came from various magazines.  The words were computer generated and most everything was sewn in place using two different variegated threads.  You might be able to see where I ran out of thread while sewing the page title.

Because these statistics were so overwhelming, and these military families are in such dire need, I am Inspired to join Erika, aka BioArtGal and Chris, aka Pearshapedcrafting our hosts this month at Art Journal Journey with my take on food insecurity in the military.  I also want to thank Mae for inspiring me and this journal page.  Obviously, this will be my final journal entry honoring Eileen's theme since we welcome a new host tomorrow.   Thank you beyond belief for joining me today.  You have NO idea how grateful I am.   
I also want to thank both Erika and Chris for co-hosting this month.  I am simply thrilled you two picked up Eileen's theme and ran with it.

18 thoughtful remarks:

Iris Flavia said...

Wow. I admit I have no idea how military is here in Germany. Ingo just did his duty.

(And in my family they refused. One cousin was one of the first "Kriegsdienstverweigerer". Instead of Conscription/the draft he, as my brother, chose to work in a hospital instead. Not fair, anyways, men are forced to do one of these, but women... not!)

Sounds really unfair in your country. These people take care of your or other countries and get treated - with their families - that bad!

Thank you for pointing this out!
See. I never waste food and this gives me one more reason, I just could not, knowing others cannot even afford fresh fruit. No job, hence retirement-money with all the moving. I never thought of that.

Valerie-Jael said...

Definitely a problem. Here the military is quite well paid. And we have a different pensions system, you don't lose what you have already accrued when you move, so working wives would keep their pension benefits. Have a happy Friday, hugs, Valerie

Mae Travels said...

Dear Elizabeth,
I'm delighted to see that you have been inspired by my efforts to let readers know about food insecurity (also about "hunger," another key word for my blog).

The specific topic of hunger among American military families is not one that I have been aware of, so I thank you for studying it and thus expanding on the topic. Our society has done a very poor job of dealing with poorer citizens, and this is one more example. You have done a great job researching and reporting on it.

best... mae at

aussie aNNie said...

Interesting post..xxxx

mamapez5 said...

It was sad to read this though I am not sure I see that 'food insecurioty' is any worse for the military than all the others who are working in services such a rubbish collectors, night porters and other community work,on low income who are struggling right now. There area lot of scheme to help in UK, some government funded but mostly as charities, but the problem is the same here in Spain too. We donate to two fairly local food banks that have seen the number of users increase massively during the pandemic. There is a lot of large scale agriculture in our region so surplus fresh goods do get distributed too. But I don't know much about the government benefits schemes if there are any.
But it was an interesting and thought-provoking read. Kate x

Elkes Lebensglück said...

A good, important and interesting contribution and I am glad that it is different with us, hug Elke

Laurie said...

Thank goodness these issues are being brought to the attention of the public, something must be done,

Elephant's Child said...

It is horrendous isn't it. I contribute food for the weekend packs for homeless people in my city, but am very well away that their needs are the tip of a very large (and growing) iceberg.

CJ Kennedy said...

I never knew that about the military.

My name is Erika. said...

I didn't know this about the military. And of course now you have so many more women serving too, so the roles could be switched with the man being home and the women on active duty. I do know a bit about food insecurity with kids through teaching all those years. I know there is/ was a food program at my school that delivered food to those in need during the early days of the pandemic. And there are schools that do weekend backpacks with food like mac and cheese and crackers and other non-perishables. It is a big problem. Mae is good at addressing it, and I am glad you mentioned this part also. Thanks for all your AJJ pages this past month. It ended up being a good one. See you online with a new page May 1. Hugs-Erika

Felix the Crafty Cat said...

This is interesting because I have friends who were in a similar situation though he has now retired. His wife was a teacher and I can only think your education system must be different to ours as wherever you teach here you pay into the teachers pension scheme so it continues to build up. It also seems odd that the families are having such a difficult time. Where we live in the UK it is mostly Airforce military that we come across and the families seem to be doing well so there is obviously something not quite right with the system. You are absolutely right that this is very disturbing. Take care and sending hugs, Angela xXx

pearshapedcrafting said...

What a thought provoking post! It certainly looks though it is time for reform.
The food collections in supermarkets here request packaged and tinned goods but I think the problem here is that the education system (at least a few years ago when I was teaching Food technology) does't teach basic cooking any more. I had to change what I taught as things began to be more based on encouraging pupils into the food production industry.
At the moment there is a campaign to show adults how to use fresh ingredients to provide healthy family meals. I think there may also be a food voucher scheme underway too so that the reliance on packets and tins becomes replaced with buying fresh food.
I love this page that is not only colourful but informative too!
Hugs, Chrisx

DVArtist said...

This is a truthful post. I have many members of my family in the Military. My daughter is one of those wives that has changed jobs every few years due to different stations for her husband. So many people think that the military receives everything free. That is NOT the case. When my SIL and my granddaughter go on deployments, money is taken out of their checks for the food they eat while fighting a war. Every little and big thing that a military person needs or is required to have is purchased by them, not our government. My daughter works with families in need for the Marines. Thanks for posting this.

Let's Art Journal said...

A fabulous and interesting page! I love pretty blue background and how you secured all the images with the stitching 😁. Thanks so much for the AJJ challenge theme this month in memory of Eileen, it's been such a pleasure to join everyone and pay tribute to Eileen. Happy Friday and weekend! Hugs, Jo x

Divers and Sundry said...

Veterans who weren't career military can have a hard time of it, too. Just getting medical care is difficult.

We have what are called "food deserts" here, which are connected to the issue of food insecurity.

Jeanie said...

It is almost unconscionable that our military is linked to food insecurity in such a way. I'm very glad you brought this up in your post. And your images to accompany the post are really good. They set it out very well.

Have a wonderful weekend, my friend. I hope by now that food poisoning is gone (what a bummer and at your birthday) and that you can look forward to May with all healing done!

Lisca said...

That certainly was an eye opener. I didn't realize. I had no idea food insecurity was that bad. Especially in the military. Thank you for enlightening me.
Thinking about that, I suppose it doesn't help that many young wives don't know how to cook. It would be so much cheaper if they could cook meals from scratch (and healthier).
Have a lovely weekend,

Rita said...

Good to sprtead the word about the military. And all the food banks need support--especially with the pandemic and all the jobs lost!