Active military and veteran food insecurity

Veterans and active military members dedicate their lives to serving the United States. Unfortunately, many veterans and active military members and their loved ones, face hunger. Across the United States, veterans and military families visit food banks and food pantries to help make ends meet.

A volunteer who is a U.S. Navy veteran.

Veteran hunger facts

1 in 9 working-age veterans are food insecure.

24% of active-duty service members were food insecure in 2020.

1.2 million low-income veterans use SNAP (formerly known as food stamps).

Cause of food insecurity for military families

There are many reasons why some military families may not always have enough food to eat. Here are some of the most common reasons:

  • Low pay:

    Many military members, especially those just starting, don’t make a lot of money. This can make it hard to buy groceries, especially if they have kids.

  • Hard to find jobs:

    It can be hard for the partners of military members to find steady jobs, especially if they have to move often or live on a military base.

  • Not many stores nearby:

    Some military bases are far from grocery stores or food pantries, making it hard to get food.

  • Unexpected expenses:

    Just like everyone else, military families can have unexpected expenses that eat into their budget, like moving costs or medical bills.

  • Not eligible for food help:

    Some military family members don’t qualify for food assistance programs because they’re considered to have too much income. This is because the housing allowance they receive to help pay for housing counts as income.

Cause of food insecurity for veterans

There are many reasons why some military families may not always have enough food to eat. Here are some of the most common reasons:

  • Low income:

    Many veterans, especially older ones or have disabilities, may not have enough money to afford food, especially if they have health problems or need to pay for medicine.

  • Trouble finding work:

    Leaving the military can be a big change. Veterans need time to find jobs and housing. This can make it hard to have a steady income to buy food.

  • Impact of military service:

    Some veterans have physical and mental conditions from their time in the military. These conditions can make it hard to work or manage daily life, making it harder to afford food.

Fighting Hunger for Veterans and Active Military Families

SNAP, once known as food stamps, is a government program that helps people buy food. It works like a debit card to purchase groceries at most stores. SNAP can make a big difference for veterans and military families who need help affording food.
Sadly, not all eligible veterans and military family members sign up for SNAP. That’s why the Feeding America network works to spread the word about SNAP and let people know there’s no shame in needing help. The SNAP application counselors in the network can assist with filing out the application.

A veteran and volunteer holding a box of food in a food distribution site.

Together, we can end hunger

When we have enough food to eat every day, we can thrive. Let’s make that a reality for everyone, including veterans and military families.

Here are three ways you can make a difference:


Speak up for people experiencing food insecurity. Contact your elected officials and urge them to support food programs.


Every dollar you donate helps support programs that increase access to nutritious foods.


Your time is valuable. Volunteer at a food bank to help reach more of our neighbors.