Saturday, July 23, 2016

Pentagon Does Not Know How Many Military Families Go Hungry?

Pentagon Doesn't Track How Many Military Families Go Hungry: Report
by Amy Bushatz
Jul 21, 2016

Whether a military family qualifies for food stamps depends strongly on where they are stationed, since individual states set some of their own income guidelines. For example, at both Camp Pendleton, California, and Fort Hood, Texas, troops need a minimum household size of six to qualify, even though income between those locations varies widely thanks to the Basic Allowance for Housing rates.
Authorized patrons at the Fort McCoy Commissary check out their grocery items. (Photo by Geneve N. Mankel)
Defense Department officials have incomplete information on how many military families are using food assistance programs because the department doesn't completely track the data or work with other departments to do so, a new report from the Government Accountability Office finds.

While some data exist on how many service members use programs such as food stamps, known as SNAP, or the Women and Infant Children (WIC) program, which are both controlled by the Department of Agriculture, the Pentagon only loosely tracks the programs it administers, the report says.

Additionally, no single office at the DoD is in charge of food assistance tracking, it says.

"The Department of Defense has some data on service members' use of food assistance programs it administers, but it does not know the extent that service members use such programs," the report summary says. "Also no office within DOD is monitoring food assistance needs, such as through survey data."

Little to no information was found by auditors on service members' use of the myriad of other food assistance programs such as local food banks and free and reduced lunches for children in non-DoD schools. That's a problem military officials must tackle before they are able to accurately understand how hunger impacts troops and their families, the report says.
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