Military Hunger Prevention Act Update
Last week, the House of Representatives passed the Defense Policy Bill. A key provision for us in solving hunger was including a Basic Needs Allowance for our military families to use. We received this update on what was included from Congressman Adam Smith’s (WA-9) office “Bottomline – a new Basic Needs Allowance is in the NDAA [Defense Bill]. As you know, a key difference between House and Senate approach was whether to include BAH (basic allowance for housing). The outcome in the negotiations was the decision (whether to include BAH in the calculation of eligibility) rests with the Secretary of Defense.” This is a huge win and allows the Secretary to balance the allowance across grades and locations in an equitable manner.
This new provision will also provide invaluable hard data concerning service members who are food insecure and are having a difficult time financially. This has not been available from the Department of Defense until now. The Department of Defense will now study food insecurity including:
- An analysis of food deserts that affect members of the Armed Forces, and their families, who live in areas with high costs of living;
- The current method employed by the Secretary of Defense to determine areas with high costs of living; The development of a process to determine an appropriate allowance to supplement;
- The income of members who suffer food insecurity; and
- Engagement with and outcomes of forums with beneficiaries, military service organizations, and advocacy groups to elicit information regarding the effects of food insecurity on members and their dependents”
Special thanks to Congresswoman Marilyn Strickland (WA-10) as an original co-sponsor of the Military Hunger Prevention Act, and additional cosponsors Congresswoman Suzan DelBene (WA-1), Congressman Derek Kilmer (WA-6), Congressman Rick Larsen (WA-2), Congresswoman Kim Schrier (WA-8) AND Senator Patty Murray for being a co-sponsor of the Military Hunger Prevention Act in the Senate.
Military Dependents School Meal Eligibility Act
Also, last week, Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-5) (Military Family Caucus, Co-Chair) introduced, as an original cosponsor, a bipartisan bill to provide free or reduced-cost school meals to eligible military children. Once again, Washington state is leading the way in addressing military family hunger.
- Eliminate basic allowance for housing (BAH) from the calculation of military income, ensuring more military families have access to free- and reduced-price school meals.
- Qualify almost all children of entry-level, active duty servicemembers for lunch programs, up through ranks E-6.
- Enable the Department of Defense (DoD) to share family eligibility with school districts, for families to directly certify for free or reduced-price school meals.
- Increase the percentage of directly certified students in schools, making schools more eligible for the community eligibility provision, which offers free meals to all students.
- Reduce food insecurity for military families and improve the health and academic outcomes for military children.
Thank you Congresswoman McMorris Rodgers!