Defense official says food insecurity is a national security and preparedness issue> US Department of Defense> Defense Department News

The readiness of the US military includes many factors, but “food insecurity” has an impact on physical and mental health, the Assistant Under Secretary of Defense for Military Community and Family Policy said at the time. of a virtual round table at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Patricia Montes Barron discussed “Food Security in the Military: What We Know and Why It Matters” at CSIS today. The US Department of Agriculture defines food insecurity as a lack of constant access to enough food for an active and healthy life. Those serving on active duty, in military reserves or in the National Guard have experienced food insecurity at double the national average in recent months, according to national surveys. And anecdotal evidence points to increased rates of food insecurity among U.S. veterans during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to reports.

Barron said his office has been working hard since April to craft a plan for the Defense Department that anyone can embrace. “We have also started working with the USDA, and we just got approval to work with the Census Bureau on a discussion panel on military families,” she added.

Food insecurity is a top priority for Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III, she said. “He wants to make sure that we fix this problem and get there as quickly as possible … [via] The interest of the Congress, as well as the discussions with [the White House’s initiative] Join forces, ”she noted.

“We are collecting data and analyzing relevant statistics, which will help us better understand the problem,” said Barron. “And while my office takes the lead, we can’t do it alone. We need all of DOD and other federal agencies to work with us.”

Trained members of the Military Family Life Counselor Program will help with assessment tools to help MC&FP determine if people counselors need nutritional support, she said, adding that DOD Federal Financial Readiness Office is also developing an assessment tool and will work closely with MC&FP to ensure families are aware of available financial resources.

Barron said good nutrition is vital for preparedness and national security. “[If] you don’t get nutritious food, you don’t feed your body, and you don’t feed your mind to do your best, ”she said.

“[We’re] asking our military and their families to basically go where they have to live, to give up work for spouses, ”said Barron.[And] we ask a lot of our families, and especially our children who have to move from one place to another. Shouldn’t we be providing them with the best possible care? A military family should have no problem with food. … We have a plethora of resources; we just have to make sure our families know about them and can benefit from them. “

She said food insecurity is an individual experience, but it is also a family, community and national experience. “And if you’re not at your best, if you’re worried that your family isn’t eating enough, or if you’re worried that your family isn’t eating the right kinds of things, it can really impact the overall presence of military personnel trying to do their work and their missions. “

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