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More Military Families Using Food Stamps

Food stamp use at military groceries has risen for the sixth straight year.


Photo: dirtyblueshirt (Flickr)

Military groceries, called commissaries, may see a price increase.

Food stamp use amongst military families has continued to rise for the sixth straight year since the recession began in 2008, and the reasons are varied.

Recession Ripple Effects

$103.6 million in SNAP benefits, commonly called food stamps, was redeemed last year in military groceries, up almost $5 million from 2012.

Use of food stamps by military families rose 5 percent between 2012 and 2013, faster than the general population, which only rose 2 percent.

During the recession, food stamp restrictions were loosened, making more soldiers eligible for the benefits.

Income And Unemployment

Entry-level active-duty military make less than $20,000 a year, an amount that qualifies a two-person household for SNAP benefits.

Military personnel also experience financial strain because the need to relocate makes it difficult for their spouses to find work. Spouses of active duty military, ages 18-24, are facing 30 percent unemployment.

Military personnel are also offered benefits like subsidized housing, education and reduced food costs at commissaries to offset financial burdens.

Though the increase has slowed from a historic 70 percent jump between 2009 and 2010, food stamp use is still three times what it had been in 2008.

Food stamp benefits will continue to be cut over the next ten years as part of the farm bill signed into law earlier this year, while food prices at military commissaries may increase.

Read More:

  • Food stamp use among military rises again (CNN Money)
  • Why soldiers are increasingly relying on food stamps (CBS News)
Liz Leslie

Liz Leslie is a journalist based in Chicago. When she's not writing about food, she's likely eating food. Or dreaming about food.

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