Vince Hall, the CEO of Feeding San Diego, testified before the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Economic Opportunity Subcommittee earlier today. The hearing examined United States Department of Agriculture and Veterans Affairs programs that provide nutrition assistance to nearly 20 million veterans.
Hall testified on changes Congress could make to help reach more veterans and military families with food assistance throughout the year, focusing on three key areas – removing policy barriers, strengthening and protecting federal nutrition programs, and increasing research to better understand the complex needs of veteran and military families facing hunger.
One recommendation Hall listed was to exclude the Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) that military families receive as income during the calculation of SNAP benefits to ensure active-duty military families receive the assistance they need. Currently, the BAH is not considered as income by certain federal assistance programs including Head Start and WIC. It is also excluded for income tax purposes.
In his testimony, Hall said, “We need to serve those that serve our country and do everything we can to remove barriers that prevent our military families from accessing the nutrition they need to protect our nation and their families. SNAP is the first line of defense against hunger in this nation, and we owe it to the people on our front lines to ensure their families receive this protection.”
San Diego County has the largest concentration of military and veterans in the world, with 826,000 veterans and family members and 143,000 active-duty service members, and 260,000 military dependents stationed in the community. Feeding San Diego serves local veterans and active-duty military families struggling with hunger through the Feeding Heroes initiative. In addition to food distributions with military-focused non-profit partners, the initiative reaches people in need on or near the base, in military housing areas, and in public schools serving a high percentage of military families. Through dignified farmer’s market-style distributions, Feeding San Diego provides fresh, nutritious food to active duty military families and veterans, without stigma or unnecessary bureaucracy.
“Making real progress toward ending veteran and military family hunger and ensuring opportunity for all of our nation’s families will require investing new resources toward increasing access,” Hall said. “I encourage the Committee on Veteran Affairs to advance recommendations to strengthen nutrition programs for veteran and military families thereby helping to end hunger in this country.”
Feeding San Diego is a member of Feeding America, the nation’s largest hunger-relief organization with a network of 200 food banks and food rescue organizations across the country.
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About Feeding America
Feeding America® is the largest hunger-relief organization in the United States. Through a network of more than 200 food banks, 21 statewide food bank associations, and over 60,000 partner agencies, food pantries and meal programs, we helped provide 5.2 billion meals to tens of millions of people in need last year. Feeding America also supports programs that prevent food waste and improve food security among the people we serve; brings attention to the social and systemic barriers that contribute to food insecurity in our nation; and advocates for legislation that protects people from going hungry. Visit www.feedingamerica.org, find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.