Honoring our veterans by ending hunger

November 13, 2017

By Marlysa D. Gamblin

This past weekend, our country celebrated the contributions of our veterans. Veterans Day is a time to honor the contributions veterans have made to protecting and serving our country. It should go without saying that part of honoring people is to ensure that they are not living with hunger and poverty. Yet 1.25 million veterans live below the poverty line and nearly 4 million veterans are food insecure.

According to a 2014 study from Feeding America, approximately one in five food insecure households includes someone with either past or present military service. On any given night, 40,000 veterans are homeless. One in five veteran families receives Low Income Home Emergency Assistance (LIHEAP) to help pay for heating and cooling their homes.

Currently, there are 23,000 active duty military who benefit from SNAP (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). This number does not include those on base who go to food pantries to help put food on the table.

In honor of Veterans Day and the U.S. goal of ending hunger by 2030, we should identify and address the barriers that keep so many veterans and active duty personnel hungry and poor. We should also commit to preserving the critical food, health, housing, and heating programs that help them meet their immediate needs.

The fact that so many active duty military, veterans, and their families struggle to put food on the table should also make us question the extent of hunger among other communities. 

Honoring veterans’ commitment to protecting the United States also means doing our part to protect our country—and ending hunger and poverty is one of the best ways to do this. Even setting aside for a moment the unnecessary human suffering that they cause, hunger and poverty compromise our growth and leave us further behind other countries. In addition, they make our country more vulnerable to attack. Children who suffer from hunger today are at higher risk of health problems and limited productivity as adults. When their potential is limited, so is the potential of our country and its ability to continue protecting itself.  

In the spirit of Veterans Day, how can we help protect our country? Currently, Congress is considering a budget that would increase hunger and poverty among veterans, their families, and other vulnerable people. Congress should instead enact a budget that invests in programs that help people meet their basic needs. Programs such as SNAP do not “end hunger” in a sustainable way, but they meet the immediate needs of hungry families and help preserve the progress made over the years so that the country can continue to attack the root causes of hunger and poverty.

Marlysa D. Gamblin is domestic advisor for policy and programs, specific populations, with Bread for the World Institute.

Honoring veterans’ commitment to protecting the United States also means doing our part to protect our country—and ending hunger and poverty is one of the best ways to do this. 

from our Resource Library

For Education

  • The Nourishing Effect

    Hunger and food insecurity add at least $160 billion a year to U.S. healthcare costs.

  • Mass Incarceration: A Major Cause of Hunger

    Mass incarceration has far-reaching effects in the United States. It poses a significant barrier to ending U.S. hunger and poverty by 2030—a goal the United States adopted in 2015. But the connection is not always obvious.

  • Advancing Nutrition through Food Aid Reform

    The United States has long been a global leader in responding to humanitarian emergencies. Food assistance that includes nutritious food for pregnant women and young children is both a life-and-death matter for individuals and an economic imperative for countries.

For Faith

  • Unity Declaration on Racism and Poverty

    A diverse body of Christian leaders calls on the churches and Congress to focus on the integral connection.

    Dear Members of Congress,

    As the president and Congress are preparing their plans for this year, almost 100 church leaders—from all the families of U.S. Christianity—are...

  • In Times Like These … A Pan-African Christian Devotional for Public Policy Engagement

    This devotional guide invites deepened relationship with and among Pan-Af­rican people and elected leaders in the mission to end hunger and poverty.

  • Sermon by David Beckmann at Duke University Chapel

    Remarks delivered October 1, 2017 at Duke University Chapel in Chapel Hill in North Carolina.

    Thank you for inviting me to preach here at Duke University Chapel. And I especially want to thank the Bread for the World members who have come this morning.

    Bruce Puckett urged...

For Advocacy

  • Grassroots Advocacy Toolkit

    A set of how-to sheets for carrying out advocacy and fact sheets on the current issues Bread for the World is working on.

    For new and current Bread grassroots hunger activists.

    Ideal as a starter toolkit for new Bread activists or as a set of updates for current activists.


  • Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2017

    Unnecessarily long prison sentences, combined with the lack of rehabilitative programs for people in prison, exacerbate hunger, poverty, and existing inequalities.

    Overly harsh mandatory minimum prison sentences have contributed to the rapid increase of our country’s prison population. The...

  • Health Care Is a Hunger Issue

    Learn more about the principles that Bread for the World supports regarding health reform.


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