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Food Insecurity: Research and Data

Our research informs our work. We learn from the stories and experiences of military families. When it comes to addressing the issue of food insecurity, MFAN’s efforts have been informed in part by two national research studies, and multiple subsequent reports.

Our Methods

While military and veteran families’ experiences are essential to our research, we also rely on the USDA’s Six-Item Short Form Food Security Scale to specifically analyze the level of food insecurity they are facing. The USDA scale uses six statements and questions to evaluate food security, and when respondents answer affirmatively, it shows that they are having trouble getting enough food for their families in some way. The scale is a precise way to evaluate food insecurity, and when paired with families’ experiences, we get a full picture of what support is needed.


Our Findings

The following reports contained key insights about food insecurity in the military community.

National Survey

One in 8 survey respondents said they experienced food insecurity before the COVID-19 pandemic. In the survey, the following states recorded the highest amount of food insecurity: Texas, Virginia, California, North Carolina, Washington, Florida, and New York. When military and veteran families are experiencing food insecurity, they rely on their communities for support, especially food pantries. Read the full report.

The State of the State — Texas

Respondents from Texas said they were less likely to seek help when they don’t have enough food. Among the respondents from Texas, 1 in 6 was considered food insecure, according to the USDA food security scale. Read the full report.

Food Insecurity and the COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 Pandemic made it even more challenging for active duty and veteran families to get enough food on the table. This survey, fielded in the first quarter of 2021, provides a snapshot of pandemic challenges that caused more food insecurity. The incidences rose to 1 in 5 among the respondents. Read the full report.

Support Needs of Post-9/11 Veterans and Families

Veterans struggled with food insecurity more than retirees, who leave service with a pension and other supports not available to veterans. Veterans also faced more obstacles with social determinants of health, such as lack of emergency savings, difficulty accessing health care, and higher rates of loneliness. In this report, 15.6% of post-9/11 veteran and military retiree family respondents said they experienced food insecurity. Read the full report.


Share Your Story

MFAN’s research team has partnered with the Institute for Military & Veteran Wellness at the University of Texas at Austin to understand what causes food insecurity among military and veteran families in Texas.

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