Congress barely dents scourge of hunger in military – JP
A recently enacted income supplement for low-ranking U.S. troops, put in place primarily to alleviate food insecurity in the ranks, will help less than 1 percent of the estimated scores of thousands of hungry U.S. military families, according to Pentagon figures.
That statistic, which has not been previously reported, suggests Congress has a lot more work to do to ensure servicemembers who put their lives on the line for their country don’t also have to sacrifice food for themselves and their families, experts and some lawmakers said.
Fully 24 percent of active-duty servicemembers recently experienced “low food security,” meaning they sometimes lacked quality meals, according to the latest Pentagon survey of troops in late 2020 and early 2021 — before the recent inflation surge. Of those, 10 percent periodically experienced “very low food security,” meaning they sometimes ate less at mealtime, missed meals entirely or lost weight due to inadequate food intake in the previous year.
Those percentages suggest that 286,800 active-duty servicemembers have had some level of food insecurity of late, and nearly 120,000 of them have sometimes gone hungry recently due to a lack of food, according to senators on the Armed Services Committee. The figures do not count family members of those active-duty personnel. Nor are reservists and their family members included in the tally.
To address this problem, Congress established a “basic needs allowance” in the fiscal 2022 National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, for lower-income servicemembers. Starting this month, the provision would boost their pay to ensure it is at least 130 percent of the poverty line for their area.