WASHINGTON, D.C. (WETM) — Senator Kristen Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) announced a bipartisan bill aimed to fight military hunger in the 2023 Farm Bill.
On March 30, Gillibrand announced her support for the Military Family Nutrition Access Act. She intends to include this in the 2023 Farm Bill. The bill would exclude Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) from being used to determine SNAP eligibility. BAH is money provided by the military to cover the cost of off-base housing. BAH is already excluded from other federal assistance programs, including the Earned Income Tax Credit, Head Start, and the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit.
“Nearly one-in-four active duty service members experience low food security, making them more likely to face hunger than people in the general population—it’s wrong and it’s unacceptable,” said Gillibrand.
According to the U.S. Department of Defense, 24% of service members experienced food insecurity in 2020. According to the USDA, a person or household is experiencing food insecurity if they have “limited or uncertain access to adequate food.”
Of the 24% service members experiencing food insecurity, 10% experienced very low food security. The USDA defines very low food security as “reports of multiple indications of disrupted eating patterns and reduced food intake.”
Service members experience food insecurity at rates more than twice as high as the rest of the population. In 2020, 10.5% of U.S. households were food insecure, according to the USDA.
“The problem stems from the fact that when SNAP calculates eligibility for SNAP benefits, it is counting Basic Allowance for Housing as income, despite the fact that housing vouchers are not counted for the civilian population,” said Gillibrand. “The bipartisan Military Family Nutrition Access Act would correct this injustice and exclude BAH from income calculations, enabling more military families to qualify for SNAP assistance.”
The Military Family Nutrition Access Act is led by Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and has support from over one dozen senators.