Lawmakers, nonprofits working to combat food insecurity among military families

SAN ANTONIO – Low salaries for enlisted members, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program ineligibility and high rates of unemployment for military spouses are some of the factors contributing to military hunger.

Feeding America, a nonprofit organization, said in 2022, lawmakers took action to address military hunger.

“The reality is the food bank now is taking food onto the base to make it more comfortable, more accessible for those struggling active members to get food,” said Eric Cooper, president & CEO of the San Antonio Food Bank.

This year, Congress increased the Basic Needs Allowance, or BNA, by raising the income eligibility to 150% of the federal poverty level. It’s an increase from the previous 130% threshold.

The Department of Defense said improving food security in the military is not only key to ensuring our service members and their families are provided for, but also critical to national security and military readiness.

The Family Readiness Center over at JBSA Lackland said they have the tools to ensure that their servicemen and women are financially successful.

“Food insecurity is a big deal. The DOD has recognized that and some of the things that they’re doing to combat that is they’re offering individuals such as myself, a certified personal financial counselor, free resources at every military installation,” said Richard Gomez, a community readiness specialist at the Family Readiness Center.

Aside from policy solutions, Gomez said in an effort of addressing several areas that could potentially lead to food insecurity, the Department of Defense has established mandatory financial touchpoints for all servicemembers.

“We can discuss everything from just money management in general, building a spend plan, repairing or building credit, tackling debt, making sure that you’re properly insured,” said Gomez.

About the Authors:

Jonathan Cotto is a reporter for KSAT’s Good Morning San Antonio. He’s a bilingual award-winning news reporter and he joined KSAT in 2021. Before coming to San Antonio, Cotto was reporting along the U.S.-Mexico border in South Texas. He’s a veteran of the United States Navy.

Before starting at KSAT in August 2011, Ken was a news photographer at KENS. Before that he was a news photographer at KVDA TV in San Antonio. Ken graduated from San Antonio College with an associate's degree in Radio, TV and Film. Ken has won a Sun Coast Emmy and four Lone Star Emmys. Ken has been in the TV industry since 1994.