DENVER (KDVR) — The Military Family Advisory Network warned last year that one in every eight military families have trouble putting food on the table. Now in 2020, the coronavirus pandemic makes that situation even worse.
Adding to the problem is the fact that military families do not qualify for food stamps.
According to Blue Star Families, this is because of the way the Farm Bill is written. The Farm Bill determines who is allowed to receive SNAP benefits. Those benefits are not given to military families because of the way soldiers are paid.
Essentially, Blue Star Families says Junior Soldiers make between $1,700 and $2,700 a month. To help compensate that salary, there’s also an added BAH, or Basic Allowance for House, which pays for a portion of their rent or mortgage. The BAH disqualifies military families from receiving Food Stamps because the Farm Bill counts it as income.
Cornelius Kilgore, known to his friends as Cory, knows how it feels to struggle to make ends meet. Kilgore is an Army veteran who served his country for several decades, deploying to Iraq six times.
“A lot of people think that, you know, being a service member you make a lot of money. But at the lower pay grades, that’s not the case,” he explained, “When I was a young soldier in 1994 I was married, newly married, and we had just had a brand-new baby. You know, times were hard back then… there were times where we tried to get on food stamps, but they said we weren’t allowed to get that.”
Kilgore is now comfortable, but spends his time helping other people because he knows how it feels.
“I personally believe that human compassion is something that’s desperately needed even more so today… No matter which type of situation you come from, you can help out,” he said.
One of the organizations he volunteers for once a month is the Food Bank of the Rockies, which receives and distributes food throughout half of Colorado and all of Wyoming. It partners with many groups that specifically help veterans like the Redistribution Center, Support Our Troops and Metro Caring.
The CEO of the Food Bank of the Rockies, Erin Pulling, said, “It’s incredibly important that we are supporting people who have served our country now and in their time of need… Anyone that is coming to one of our food distributions needs help with food. And that is all that’s required for someone to get help.”
If you are a military member or veteran in need of assistance, here are several organizations that may be able to help: