25 Percent Of Military Households Rely On Food Banks

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FT. BELVOIR, VA - NOVEMBER 12 Cheryl Janey, R, is among the Northrop Grumman volunteers packing Thanksgiving gift bags for military families at the USO's warehouse at Fort Belvoir on November 12, 2011, in Ft. Belvoir, VA. This holiday season, the Capital Area Food Bank and the USO say they have seen need among military families locally like never before -- as families struggle through multiple deployments and the fallout from the bad economy. The Food Bank took a record 8000 pounds of food in th | The Washington Post via Getty Images

An exhaustive hunger report recently concluded that 25 percent of military members rely on food banks.

After compiling four years of data, Feeding America -- the nation's leading domestic hunger-relief charity -- recently released its largest and most comprehensive study on the issue and found that one in seven people rely on food banks to get their basic nutrition needs.

Perhaps one of the most stunning figures was that in 2012, almost 620,000 of the households who relied on the organization’s services had at least one member currently in the military. That's 25 percent of all U.S. military households.

These figures included military members currently serving full or part time either in the Armed Forces, Reserves or National Guard.

The Pentagon, however, was quick to take issue with the study’s methodology in measuring the number of struggling military members.

Officials said that surveying households instead of individuals and using those figures against military data, creates an inaccurate picture, Military.com reported.

"Without performing appropriate statistical adjustments to match the survey sample with the military population, it is impossible to accurately calculate an estimated percentage of military households served by the Feeding America's programs based on the survey data," Navy Cmdr. Nathan Christensen, a Pentagon spokesman, told the news outlet.

Christensen also told NPR that military pay and benefits compare favorably with the private sector, and that service members can always seek out counseling should they face financial problems.

But advocates say that military members are often too ashamed to draw such attention to themselves within the confines of the military, which is why getting help from food banks is often more appealing.

"The reason they go to the food bank is it's anonymous," Joyce Raezer, executive director of the National Military Family Association, told NPR.

Back in 2011, the FISH food bank in Lakewood, Washington, located near Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JLBM), started to see a "surprising" increase in the numbers of military members in need of help.

While JBLM offers a housing allowance to families who live off post and programs to help struggling families, some say it’s not enough.

"My husband is embarrassed because he doesn't feel that we should have to be here," Frances Anderson, whose husband was on active duty at the time, told KING 5 News. "The economy is terrible. I just tell the people on post that I need help and they just look at me like I'm crazy."

Find out how you can get involved with Feeding America's efforts here.

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