If you’ve been to the grocery store, you’ve likely experienced a little sticker shock at the cash register.
According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), food prices rose by 11% between August 2021 and August 2022 and are expected to increase another 8% this year.
In comparison, food prices rise on average 2% annually. For those living below the Federal Poverty Level, including over 1.5 million veterans, the rising cost of food places more veterans and active-duty service members at risk of food insecurity.
The US Department of Agriculture defines food insecurity as a household’s inability to provide enough food for each person to live an active, healthy lifestyle. It is a sad reality that 1 in 9 working age veterans and 1 in 4 active-duty service members were food insecure in 2020.
According to the RAND Corporation, veterans who are younger, lower ranking, and recently separated from the military are at higher risk of food insecurity. Also at higher risk are veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, rural veterans, and those who live in low-income areas. RAND also reported that nearly 30% of women veterans are food insufficient.
Food insecurity is also linked to a wide range of poor outcomes, including mental health, physical health, and housing stability. With rising food prices, many veterans are unfortunately forced to choose between adequate food or paying for utilities, rent, or needed medical treatment and medications.
HVAF is seeing this increased need firsthand. In the newly named Colonel Donald W. Moreau, Sr. Veterans Community Center, our food pantry is open to veterans every Tuesday and Thursday. We’ve seen an increase in visits month over month, with March 2023 being our busiest month since the start of the pandemic.
In March, 245 veterans visited the pantry 1,014 times and were able to receive over 1,500 pounds of food and nearly 800 pounds of clothing. Calendar year to date, we have distributed over 8,500 pounds of food and 4,400 pounds of clothing to veterans in need in our community.
With emergency food relief funding decreasing this year, we are more reliant than ever on your help to continue to stock our pantry shelves. To support HVAF’s pantry operations, please consider making a food donation: