Military families in Texas lead nation in food insecurity in second national survey
New study reveals startling trends about military food insecurity, finances, health, and community
WASHINGTON — A new report released today by the Military Family Advisory Network (MFAN) revealed that food insecurity rates for military families stationed in Texas are among the highest of its national participants. According to the study, one in six military family respondents in Texas are experiencing low food security or hunger, and respondents indicate that they were more likely to not eat than to seek out food assistance services.
“First I would eat cat food. Then I learned to go to the food bank,” said one military spouse who responded to MFAN’s Military Family Support Programming Survey, which utilized the USDA Six-Item Short Form Food Security Scale to assess food insecurity among respondents. Another active duty spouse said, “I give more (food) to my husband because he needs the energy to go to work almost every day.”
MFAN’s State of Texas Report distills experiences from Texas respondents from MFAN’s national survey, which included 7,785 military and veteran respondents from all 50 states, 22 countries, and two U.S. territories. The largest demographic group of respondents was from Texas. The U.S. military is an integral part of the Texas economy — the economic impact of military installations in the state of Texas was $123.6 billion in 2019. With 15 military installations, and as home to Army Futures Command, Texas has a vested interest in being viewed as the best home for military service members and their families.
“No military family should have to worry about where their next meal is coming from,” said Shannon Razsadin, executive director for MFAN. “These heartbreaking accounts paint a vivid picture into the daily challenges military families in this country are facing. But we know these challenges don’t occur in a vacuum – our research also uncovered some startling connections about how food insecurity is closely linked with other aspects of family life, including family finances, mental health, and substance abuse.”
Additional key survey findings include:
- Households with more people living in them had higher rates of food insecurity. Nearly one-fifth (17.7%) of Texas respondents with five or more in their households reported experiencing food insecurity.
- More than three-quarters of Texas respondents (76.8%) reported that they carry debt and about one-third of active duty (32.6%) and veteran (34.6%) families in Texas reported having no emergency savings.
- 15.3% of active duty spouses in Texas indicated they had suicidal thoughts in the past two years. This is 2.4% higher than active duty spouses in other states (12.9%).
- 61.5% of Texas respondents believe alcohol use is a problem within the military community. 21.6% of active duty spouses responded that they were concerned about alcohol use within their immediate family.
Over the next two years, MFAN will team up with H-E-B, the University of Texas at Austin, Kendra Scott, National Military Family Association, Nexstar, USO, and more to meet immediate needs and uncover underlying causes of food insecurity among military families. MFAN is committed to working with local communities, organizations, and leaders across the state of Texas to understand the underlying causes and deploy solutions to food insecurity. In January 2021, MFAN will host an advisory council meeting with leaders across industries and throughout the state of Texas to inform this important work.
About MFAN: The Military Family Advisory Network is a nonprofit dedicated to building a community of military and veteran families at home and abroad who are well-informed about the resources designed to serve them, equipped with tools for success, connected to leaders who serve the military family community and embraced by the public. To learn more about MFAN, visit www.militaryfamilyadvisorynetwork.org.