Food Security is not achievable for all in the military and the House passed a draft of the defense bill that provides a provision for an extra allowance for some military members to pay for basic needs. For many young families, groceries are bought with each paycheck and stretched over the following two weeks. If the number of food banks established just for military members is any indication, the bi-monthly pay sometimes isn’t enough. Military spouse employment, and the lack thereof, is a great part of the funds of a family and oftentimes military families are solely relying on the active duty service members pay.
Section 602 of the House’s current National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 (H.R. 6395) has a provision for an extra monthly allowance of pay for some service members, on top of a proposed 3% pay raise for all troops. The monthly allowance would be intended for basic need coverage like food, tolietries, clothing and diapers. The annual allowance would be equal to 130% of the Federal poverty guidelines of the Department of Health and Human Services minus the service member’s gross income and divided by twelve for a monthly allowance. Currently, 130% of the poverty leve is $28,200 for a family of 3. Eligibility for the allowance will be conducted by the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS), with the hopes for each qualifying member to be notified by December 31 of each year. Each eligible service member will be able to opt-out of the extra pay stipend annually if they desire.
According to research, this type of provision was written into the 2019 House proposal of the National Defense Authorization Act as well but was not included in the final version of the bill. The White House
According to Blue Star Family’s 2018 Military Family Lifestyle survey, 12% of veteran families and 7% of military families reported food insecurity in the previous year with 18% of veteran families and 9% of military families reporting use of an emergency food pantry or charity. The additional allowance will assist in bridging the gap in food security.
The Senate has passed their own version of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 (S.R. 4049), and it is yet to be determined what will be in the final, accepted version of the bill will come out of the conference committee. This will be determined after the November 3rd election. You can follow the bill’s movement and amendments on Congress.gov.