MFAN reaches major milestone in fight against hunger, vows to continue to address issue
The Military Family Advisory Network (MFAN) has delivered on our promise to provide urgent relief to military and veteran families experiencing food insecurity. We’re humbled to report that we have officially distributed over one million meals to military families, surpassing our goal at a food distribution event held near Fort Hood, Texas on Saturday, December 18.
In 2019, MFAN’s research revealed that one in eight national survey respondents were experiencing food insecurity. That number rose to one in five in 2021 during the COVID-19 pandemic. When our military families shared that many in our community were struggling to put food on the table, we had to act.
Putting Research into Action
Earlier this year, we designed and implemented the 1 Million Meals Challenge, a nationwide campaign to combat the upsetting trend of rising hunger rates in the military. With the help of CBS Evening News with Norah O’Donnell, the 1 Million Meals Challenge was introduced on a national stage in April 2021.
The campaign promised to bring together key players – corporate sponsors, military families, food bank partners, elected officials, military leaders, and subject matter experts – to identify both immediate and long-term solutions to food insecurity. MFAN announced a three-pronged approach; hosting local food distributions in areas of the country where food support is needed most, connecting families to ongoing support and resources, and conducting research to understand and ultimately address underlying factors that lead to food insecurity among military families.
Our Impact At-A-Glance
In total, MFAN has delivered real results and made a direct impact in the lives of military families through the 1 Million Meals Challenge, including:
- Distributing over 1,000,000 meals to military families since May 2021
- Serving over 6,500 military families locally within the span of five months
- Hosting 12 food distribution events near Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Fort Hood, Texas, San Antonio, Texas, Norfolk, Virginia, and Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington
- Tyson Foods donating over 400,000 pounds of product
- Each family receiving an average of 50 pounds of nutritious food at every distribution – including protein, seasonal produce, breakfast items, canned goods, and household products – at no cost
“I’ve had the pleasure of meeting so many heroes at food distribution events throughout the year, and it breaks my heart to see these families struggling,” says Shannon Razsadin, MFAN president and executive director and an active duty Navy spouse. “I am incredibly grateful for the families who have shown up at these events. You put your family first and made it easier for others to do the same.”
All Hands on Deck
This effort was only made possible by the collective will and backing from our partners and supporters.
The Bob Woodruff Foundation, Wounded Warrior Project, Cigna, CVS Health, and Humana Military each sponsored food distribution events. Tyson Foods served as the protein partner for the entire series, donating truckloads of product and providing industry expertise at each event. Local partners Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore, Food Care Center – Killeen, Manna Church, Nourish Pierce County, and San Antonio Food Bank provided host venues, staff and volunteers, and logistics support. Food Lifeline, Coastal Pacific, MDV SpartanNash, and the major suppliers of the commissary such as Kellogg’s, P&G, DelMonte, and many more offered hundreds of thousands of pounds of produce, dry goods, and household products.
MFAN’s individual donors and volunteers, as well as the generous viewers of CBS Evening News with Norah O’Donnell, raised vital funds and awareness. But, most importantly, we’d like to thank our nation’s service members, veterans, and their families. You inspire us and motivate us to take action each and every day.
The Road Ahead
While MFAN and its partners have made significant headway and achieved an important milestone, ending food insecurity among military and veteran families is a complex, decades-old issue that will require further response.
Rest assured that we are here for you and this is only the beginning. We are honored to stand behind you, as you have stood behind us all of these years.
“We are just getting started,” says Razsadin. “We’ve already scheduled additional food distribution events across the country in 2022 where food relief is most needed. Next year, MFAN is also bringing together military families, elected officials, civilian leaders, and military service organizations for a solutions summit to identify innovative approaches to alleviate hunger and get food more directly to military families so that they don’t have to attend events like these. We are also working with our partners to make sure that those who interact with military families know how to identify food insecurity and get families the help they need.”
You Can Help Alleviate Hunger
The lines at every one of our food distribution events remained long, a stark reminder that our work is not yet done.
To learn how you can join MFAN in making a difference in the lives of military families experiencing food insecurity, visit combatmilitaryhunger.org.