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Food assistance, the military and North Carolina

If you’ve been following the presidential proposal to cut funding and make massive changes to food assistance eligibility, you need to read this piece from Military.com on how it’s likely to impact military families.

From the piece:

President Donald Trump’s proposals to cut eligibility for food stamps would hit hard on thousands of military families who receive the benefit, the Pentagon said Tuesday.

“It’s a very unfortunate situation,” Army Lt. Gen. Anthony R. Ierardi, the Pentagon’s Joint Staff Director for force structure, readiness and assessment, said of the difficulties of troops who have to resort to food stamps.

Ierardi did not immediately have an estimate on how many troops were on food stamps but said he had personally dealt with the problem of families struggling to meet their dietary needs in a previous post as a division commander. He said the military would seek to mitigate the impact on families if the proposed cuts to the food stamp program were approved by Congress.

Amy Bushatz of Military.com last year cited a report by the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office which said that the Department of Defense lacked the data or coordination with other federal agencies to keep an accurate track on how many troops were receiving food stamps.

The report found that about 23,000 active duty service members received food stamps in 2013, according to U.S. Census data. In addition, information from the Department of Defense Education Activity showed that in September 2015, 24 percent of 23,000 children in U.S. DoDEA schools were eligible for free meals, while 21 percent were eligible for reduced-price meals.

“While it is known that service members use food assistance programs and that information on recipients can be obtained, specific data on service members’ use of these programs are not available because there is no requirement or need that has been established for agencies” to collect the information, the GAO report said.

In a White House briefing Monday on the budget, Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney indicated that the Trump administration was ready to press a crackdown on eligibility for food stamps and other benefits as part of sweeping cuts on federal anti-poverty programs.

North Carolina is one of the states with the largest active duty military populations in the nation. The Army’s Fort Bragg in Fayetteville the largest military base in terms of population, with more than 140,000 people including soldiers and civilians. Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville one of the largest Marine Corps bases.

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