UTICA, New York – Veterans Day was an opportunity for all Americans to thank and honor the country’s selfless soldiers. It also was a day of increased hunger and requests for help from charities like Feed Our Vets after nearly 1 million low-income veterans had their food stamps cut by Congress.
The Nov. 1 budget cut affected more than 900,000 veterans who receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, according to the Center on Budget and Polity Priorities. Feed our Vets, an organization dedicated to eradicating hunger among American veterans, now expects an increase in requests for food.
“The public doesn’t realize how many veterans need assistance feeding their families,” said Richard Synek, Founder and Executive Director of Feed our Vets. “Requests for food always increase over the holidays, but they will be higher this year – and will stay high – as more veterans struggle to purchase food because of the SNAP cuts.”
In Chicago, more than 150 veterans lined up at the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center on Veterans Day to get free bags of produce and canned food. Helping out, U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth recalled how her father served in three wars yet lost his home and struggled to feed his family.
Veterans who participate in SNAP tend to be younger and recently returned from service. However, Synek said, hunger among the more than 12 million veterans over 60 is reaching critical levels. Additionally, active duty families struggle when soldiers are deployed or are relocated. About 20% of the military members who get help from the Feed Our Vets Watertown food pantry are stationed at nearby Fort Drum.
“Veterans of all ages are challenged to provide food for their families,” said Synek. “There is great need, now more than ever, and Americans can help by donating to their local food pantries.”