Pentagon Reviews Food Insecurity Among Military Families

Pentagon Reviews Food Insecurity Among Military Families


Members of Congress and advocates have raised the issue of low military pay in recent years as a concern that threatens the ability of some troops to provide for their families. A 90-day review has been announced by Lloyd Austin, the secretary of Defense, with the goal of developing a strategy.

To strengthen economic security within the military, as part of the announcement to improve economic security, the Defense Department is temporarily increasing the basic allowance for housing (BAH) payments for troops living in housing markets that are highly competitive. 

Due to the pandemic, some military families have had difficulty finding affordable housing when they move from one duty station to another. Finding decent housing and food has become a heavy task for most of them. 

From the 2020 Blue Star Families Military Lifestyle Survey, which included 10,926 troops and family members, 14% of the 1,757 active-duty, enlisted family members who responded reported food insecurity during the past year. There were 158 troops in paygrades of E-1 to E-4 who answered the survey, and 29% of junior enlisted respondents - 46 in total - reported food insecurity.

In addition to increases in BAH, Austin's memo also calls for extending reimbursements for temporary lodging beyond the traditional 10 days for troops moving during a permanent change of station (PCS), exploring the possibility of creating some overseas assignments to avoid unnecessary moves, and extending domestic missions beyond three years.

A tool kit on economic security will also be part of Military OneSource, allowing military leaders to obtain a wide range of information and resources on housing availability, financial safety and food security.

The deadline for submitting a report from the undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness is in mid-January.