On Tuesday, December 22nd, we hosted the Military Family Advisory Network Holiday Food Event, the first of what we intend to be many food distribution events across Texas in the year to come. Partnering with the Food Care Center and the University of Texas at Austin Institute for Military and Veteran Family Wellness, and thanks to the generosity of Tyson Foods and H-E-B, we were able to provide food to 500+ military families in the Killeen-Fort Hood area.
Since 2017, when our peer advisory members first shared with us that military families they knew struggled to have enough food, we have committed to understanding more about military family food insecurity and working to create data-driven responses.
- We introduced a line of food insecurity questions into subsequent iterations of our biennial Military Family Support Programming Survey to learn more about the frequency of food insecurity among military and veteran families.
- We convened the Military Family Food Insecurity Coalition to bring best-in-class partners to the table to help develop solutions that drive awareness and access to programs alleviating food insecurity.
- And most recently, we created a regional initiative to deliver tangible and immediate assistance where our data showed us the need is greatest – in Texas, where 1 in 6 survey respondents (before COVID-19) told us they worry about providing enough food for their families.
As Joseph Kopser, MFAN board member and Special Advisor for Military Leadership and Strategy Policy at the University of Texas at Austin says, “Military service teaches us to never leave a fallen comrade behind. That also means ensuring our brothers and sisters in arms have sufficient food on the table for their families.”
We had over 75 volunteers who set aside time during a busy holiday week to ensure military families were taken care of. We had Santa. And we were able to provide 25,000 pounds of healthy protein and 5,000 pounds of nonperishable goods – over 30,000 pounds of food in total!
It was a phenomenal event – filled with everything that’s special about this time of year. As one food recipient said, “Cheerful giving is as heart-warming as a full belly.” Local communities, service providers, and corporate partners collaborated to make sure that military families will be able to relax, recharge, and enjoy the holiday season without the overwhelming anxiety of providing a nutritious holiday meal. And for everyone involved, it was indeed a day full of warm hearts and full bellies.
As we welcome the start of a new year, our research team will investigate the root causes of why military families need your help. And we’ll continue to provide direct food support across the region to those families who struggle to feed their loved ones. But none of this work is possible without the support of people who are also committed to making a difference – people like our volunteers, our partners, and the families we serve – who commit to a life of service too.
We’re grateful to you all.
Please continue to follow our mission progress at www.combatmilitaryhunger.org.