Operation Homefront Helps Troops Feed Families
The Washington Post reports that although military pay is at an all-time high, the stress of the recession and high unemployment among troops’ spouses have sparked a need among active-duty and reservist families, say the USO and other nonprofit groups that help the military. Bread lines have become an unlikely sight on and around military bases.
Lynn Brantley, president and chief executive of the Capital Area Food Bank
, said that her organization decided to reach out to local military families last year after getting desperate calls from soldiers on its emergency hunger hotline. Overall, calls for help to the hotline are up 27 percent this year from last year, Brantley said.
In teaming with the USO, the food bank, the Washington region’s central resource for food for 700 agencies, distributes 6,000 to 8,000 pounds of fresh produce and other items to about 300 families at Fort Belvoir once a month. Some people stand in line for hours beforehand, camping out on lawn chairs and blankets.
“We’ve been at war for 10 years, and our families have felt the pressure of having a loved one overseas,” said Barbara Thompson, director of the Defense Department’s Office of Family Policy/Children and Youth. “I think we are a reflection of the American society at large. Just as people in American society have issues with credit and debt, our families have that, too.”
Other nonprofit groups that work with military families are also seeing rising need. Requests for food assistance have doubled in the past two years at Operation Homefront
, a national group based in San Antonio.
Jennifer Cernoch, executive director of the group’s Texas chapter, said that military wives at Fort Hood stayed up past midnight one day this month to try to be the first to register online for the operation’s holiday turkey giveaway. The list for 450 was filled in about an hour. The group also installed a food pantry two years ago, something officials never thought they’d have to do.
“I had a couple of weeks ago a wounded warrior, who was a single father applying for assistance,” Cernoch said. “I asked him if he needed food, and he said, ‘I think we can make it.’ Then his son came in, and I asked, ‘Are you guys okay?’ and he said, ‘It’s okay, ma’am, we can eat ramen again tonight.” Read the full article.
Photo caption: Volunteers from Beam Global Wine & Spirits
helped prepare bags of food, donated by Walmart, that was given to military families last year. 450 food baskets were given away and included a gift card to pick up a turkey and pumpkin pie from Walmart.