Time to Support Military Families

The Lempert Report
September 12, 2014

Many food banks have responded to this high demand and several pantries have been holding monthly distributions on military bases.

According to a recent survey conducted by Feeding America, 620,000 households that include at least one soldier, reservist or guardsman – or 25 percent of the nation’s total active duty and reserve personnel – seek aid from food pantries and other charitable programs across the country, Another 2.37 million households including veterans receive assistance from food pantries that are part of Feeding America's network.

As much as the Defense Department and others have expressed their concern, there are countless reasons why this level of help is sought. For example, for those in active duty pressures include, low pay, poor financial planning by junior soldiers, a difficulty for spouses to hold steady jobs while transferring bases and deployment, and the higher costs of living in some states.

For those who are veterans, problems can arise with the transition to the civilian world, and, for some, living off low disability pay or retirement funds. Let's not forget that both groups were hit by the Great Recession, too.

Many food banks have responded to this high demand, for example as noted by NBC News, several pantries have been holding monthly distributions on military bases. For example, Army’s Fort Drum in upstate New York,Marine Corps’ Camp Pendleton in Southern California and atnaval housing in San Diego. And some food pantries have even opened in schools in military neighborhoods.

We wondered if this might be an opportunity for retailers to step in also. Perhaps supermarkets could offer discounts and deals to military families and set up donation bins that could be taken to families on military bases. Retailers could also offer basic services to military families, such as budgeting and meal planning.  Classroom like scenarios could be offered where experts offer families advice on budgeting and how to make the most of coupons on deals as well as tips and recipe ideas to meal plan for the week.  Not only dies this build a customer base but also offers much needed supports and assistance to those who deserve it.