Armed Forces News

Photo: Jeff Bukowski / Shutterstock Image: Jeff Bukowski/Shutterstock.com

Military families would get help filling their pantries, under a measure now pending before the House. If passed, the Equal Access to the Right Nutrition for Military Families Act would garner increased access to the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

Reps. Sanford Bishop, D-GA, and Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb., co-sponsored the bipartisan legislation. The two lawmakers cited reports produced by both the House and Senate Appropriations committees, which revealed that many military families are having trouble providing enough food for their families. The Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated the problem, the reports stated.

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“Our service members … should not have to worry about whether or not there will be food on their table at home,” Bishop said. Fortenberry issued a similar statement.

The measure would eliminate differences in the ways individual states administer the SNAP program, encourage the Defense Department to make qualifying military families aware of its existence, and automatically enroll these families unless they choose not to participate. It also offers temporary SNAP assistance for service members while they transition to civilian life.

The bill, H.R. 5346, is pending before the House Appropriations subcommittee on agriculture, rural development, and the Food and Drug Administration. Stars and Stripes reported that the House measure, as written in the chamber’s version of the 2022 defense-spending bill, would provide some 3,000 families with an average of $400 per month at a cost of $14 million per year. A comparable Senate bill would assist roughly 500 military families by providing an average of about $200 per month, at a cost of $1 million per year, Stars and Stripes reported.