Hunger issues among active duty military were at the top of the agenda last year, and will be again in 2014, for Feed Our Vets (www.feedourvets.org), a nonprofit organization dedicated to ending hunger for American veterans and their families.
Residents across New York rallied throughout 2013 to help the organization provide food to homeless and unemployed veterans and enlisted military families. But with food stamp cuts to nearly 1 million veterans, and the continued housing and employment struggles of soldiers returning from the Middle East, Feed Our Vets doesn’t foresee any slowdown in the requests for help.
“There are scores of veterans who simply do not have adequate resources to feed themselves and their children,” said Richard Synek, founder and executive director of Feed Our Vets. “The recent long-term cuts to unemployment benefits are another factor that will make it even harder for these soldiers to get on their feet. The needs are great.”
New Yorkers raised money throughout last year to stock Feed Our Vets’ Utica and Watertown food pantries and its mobile food truck that serves veterans in rural communities. Everyone from Boy Scouts to motorcycle enthusiasts – and even a little girl who gave up her birthday presents in exchange for food donations – helped feed veterans last year.
“Our communities are fantastic at supporting us in our effort to take care of our soldiers,” said Synek. “They recognize that our veterans are heroes who deserve the dignity of providing for their families.”
There are an estimated 60,000 homeless veterans in America on any given night, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Nearly 3 million veterans and their families don’t have enough to eat each month. According to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, homelessness is increasing among young veterans who served in Iran and Afghanistan, and many enlisted families earn less than $25,000 a year, making it difficult to adequately provide for their families.