Federal Nutrition Programs are for Military Families, Too!

July 01, 2024

Like our civilian counterparts, military families want to ensure they eat healthy, nutritious meals that support the health and development of the entire family. But we also know that some of the realities of military life – like frequent PCS moves – can create unique challenges to achieving this goal. Fortunately, several federal programs provide support directly to families to help make healthy meals more attainable. Whether through direct financial support, nutrition education, or guidance on how to make nutritious meals on a budget, various benefit programs are available to military families like yours.


Summer Feeding Service Program (SFSP)

Whoever called them the “lazy days of summer” clearly wasn’t responsible for handing out snacks. Fortunately, the Summer Feeding Service Program provides free meals to kids under 18 all summer long. You can find the location nearest you by visiting their website.


Want to learn more about summer meals from a military kid? Check out Maggie’s Connection on the Clock, which is all about summer meals for kids and how they can help kids make friends in their new community!



Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)

Are you expecting? Or have little ones at home under the age of 5? WIC is a program designed to support the health and well-being of pregnant and breastfeeding women and children up to age 5. You may know WIC for its grocery benefits, but the program offers so much more! Program participants can get healthcare referrals, nutrition guidance, breastfeeding support, and the opportunity to connect with several other programs and services. You can learn more about the benefits of the WIC program by visiting WIC for Military Families.


WIC does have income guidelines but differs from other benefit programs in that it typically does not include BAH in its income calculations. Everyone’s circumstances are unique, so families are encouraged to visit to find a location near them and set up an appointment to learn more.


National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and School Breakfast Program (SBP)

School lunches have come a long way from mystery meat and gelatin salads – for many kids, they are the healthiest and most balanced meal of their day! The NSLP provides free or low-cost lunches (and breakfast!) based on eligibility guidelines. To see if you qualify, visit your child’s school and ask for an application.


Are you interested in learning more about school lunch programs? Check out our blog about the program, which includes five ways school meal programs can benefit your family.


Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

SNAP is an income-based benefit program that provides families with EBT cards that can be used at many local grocery stores and even some farmers’ markets. In addition to supporting grocery purchases, SNAP agencies also help families with information about healthy eating, food safety, and budgeting tips when grocery shopping. Learn more here.


SNAP does include Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) in its income calculations, which can exclude many military families. Fortunately, websites like are available to everyone and help provide information about healthy eating, shopping for meals, and prepping meals on a budget.


Life happens, and unexpected challenges arise for military and civilian families alike. Fortunately, federal nutrition programs like these are available to help your family navigate challenges and live healthier lives. Everyone deserves access to the most nutritious meals possible, and these programs are here to help make that happen!

Shareable Resource

Learn what military families should know about federal food programs with this one-pager.


About the Author

Erin Kahn

Senior Manager of Programs
Erin Kahn is an active duty Marine Corps spouse with a background in non-profit program and product management.
Read More