WASHINGTON – Today, amid threats to weaken federal nutrition programs, Ranking Member of the Nutrition, Foreign Agriculture, and Horticulture Subcommittee, Congresswoman Jahana Hayes (CT-05) led the re-introduction of the Feed Hungry Veterans Act to eliminate undue barriers faced by veterans with disabilities in accessing the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Economic Research Service (ERS), veterans have a 7.4% greater risk for food insecurity than non-veterans. Despite the widespread need, nearly 60% of eligible veterans do not participate in the life-stabilizing federal nutrition program. As a result, many who honorably served the nation are at higher risk for hunger.
Under current SNAP law, veterans are considered disabled if they receive U.S. Veterans Affairs (VA) disability compensation based on a 100-percent disability rating. This legislation would use VA disability standards to expand access to SNAP for certain disabled veterans without imposing harsh work requirements.
“No veteran should ever go hungry in the United States – yet just days away from a catastrophic economic default, Republicans continue to push efforts to undermine SNAP. Their proposals include overbearing work requirements which will directly impact the 1.3 million veterans and their families who rely on the program to put food on the table. I refuse to sit idly by as these vital resources are at risk,” said Ranking Member Hayes. “I have heard first-hand from veterans who are unable to participate in nutrition programs because they cannot meet stringent work requirement thresholds due to a service-related disability. With the Feed Hungry Veterans Act, we have the opportunity to honor the courage and sacrifice of veterans by making it easier to access healthy, nutritious foods. This critical, commonsense legislation could be life-changing for veteran communities.”
Democratic Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries recently announced the appointment of Ranking Member Hayes to the newly established Task Force on Agriculture and Nutrition in the 21st Century. The task force was created to strategize around agriculture policy and safeguard essential programs that address food insecurity among children and older Americans like SNAP, WIC and Meals on Wheels.
The Feed Hungry Veterans Act is co-led by Ranking Member of the House Agriculture Committee, David Scott (GA-13) and cosponsored by 46 Members of Congress.
“Veteran hunger is a very real problem in America, and the servicemen and women who bravely served our country deserve the dignity of knowing where their next meal will come from. I’m honored to join this bill as a co-lead and extend my gratitude to Congresswoman Hayes for once again demonstrating leadership in the fight against hunger in the United States of America. I encourage all my colleagues, on both sides of the aisle, to support this important bill,” said Ranking Member Scott.
Specifically, the Feed Hungry Veterans Act would:
- Amend the definition of “elderly or disabled” for SNAP to cover the following veterans:
- A veteran with one service-connected disability rated at 60% or higher or with two or more service-connected disabilities, at least one of which is rated 40% or higher and the combined rating is 70% of higher;
- A veteran who has been determined to be catastrophically disabled; and
- A veteran who is under 65 years old and receiving Veterans pension benefits.
- Exempt veterans considered disabled under the revised definition above from SNAP work requirements.
The Feed Hungry Veterans Act is endorsed by a number of organizations, including: End Hunger CT!, Disabled American Veterans (DAV), Food Research & Action Center (FRAC), Military Family Advisory Network (MFAN), Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA), the Alliance to End Hunger, MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger, Student Veterans of America (SVA), The National Military Families Association, Blue Star Families,), and the Center for Science in the Public Interest.
“End Hunger Connecticut! is proud to endorse this bill to support veterans from Connecticut and beyond. The men and women who have sacrificed so much to defend our nation deserve improved accessibility to SNAP, the nation’s first line of defense against hunger. Congresswoman Hayes’ Feed Hungry Veterans Act would remove barriers that currently exist for many low-income veterans with disabilities by expanding eligibility and thus the ability to afford the food they need to thrive,” said Julieth Callejas, Executive Director, End Hunger Connecticut!
“As prices for many essential items have increased during the economic crisis that has ensued in the wake of the pandemic, disabled veterans and their families have been left to make difficult financial decisions about whether to pay rent, keep the power on or buy groceries. With veterans and their families already being more at-risk for food insecurity than the general U.S. population—and with nearly 1.4 million veterans living in households that participate in SNAP, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs—it underscores the need for our country to ensure veterans facing hunger have increased access to means to help them combat it. DAV is pleased to support the Feed Hungry Veterans Act of 2023 and we applaud Rep. Hayes for her leadership in introducing this important legislation,” said Joy Ilem, National Legislative Director, Disabled American Veterans (DAV).
"One of the most important ways we can honor our nation’s veterans is by ensuring they have access to the nutrition they need to thrive," said Luis Guardia, President, Food Research & Action Center (FRAC). "The Feed Hungry Veterans Act will ensure more veterans can access the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, our nation's first line of defense against hunger. We commend Rep. Jahana Hayes (D-CT) for reintroducing this bill."
“Our research has shown that food insecurity is not only prevalent among veterans, but that significant barriers to nutrition assistance programs prevent many from meeting their most basic needs. The expansion of SNAP eligibility to more veterans with service-connected disabilities will remove unnecessary roadblocks and help put food on the table for many in need. We’re heartened to see Congresswoman Hayes and her colleagues take action to confront hunger in the veteran community,” said Shannon Razsadin, President and Executive Director, Military Family Advisory Network (MFAN).
Full bill text of the Feed Hungry Veterans Act is available here.