At the Lighthouse Foundation’s food pantry, Laura and her granddaughter are picking up food for themselves and Laura’s husband, a disabled veteran who fought during the Gulf War.
“I take care of [my husband],” she explains. “I was an EMT for years, but then we got her, and I had to retire because he couldn’t take care of her. He was in the Marine Corps and went to the Gulf the first time when the war started in ’91. It messed up his knees, his back and his ankles, plus [he’s been diagnosed with] PTSD,” she adds.
Though her husband receives Social Security, “we don’t get food stamps for [their granddaughter]. So, [we have a] very tight income. We’re doing it all on our own. They say we make too much to get help, [even though] we don’t make anything.”
Especially in the face of the on-going pandemic, Laura and her family have appreciated the opportunity to rely on the Food Bank’s network of pantries for assistance.
A battle with hunger is a battle veterans shouldn’t face
Veterans Day provides an opportunity to appreciate all that so many of our neighbors have put on the line to serve our country. Pennsylvania ranks fourth in the nation for total veteran population. Across the state, more than 819,000 of our neighbors have served. Returning home, these brave men and women are faced with another battle – the battle with hunger.
Across the state:
- 10 percent of veterans between the ages of 18 and 34 are living below the poverty line.
- 1 in 11 homeless individuals are veterans – in fact 20 percent of the male homeless population are veterans.
- 35 percent of veterans living in poverty have a disability including but not limited to physical disabilities, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injuries.
- Across Pennsylvania, 63,000 veterans receive SNAP benefits.
Serving Veterans and their families
There are several ways that the Food Bank serves veterans and their families. Through our SNAP (formerly known as food stamps) application assistance, we’re able to connect our neighbors to benefits that they can use to purchase groceries of their choice at the store.
Our network of pantries and partners spanning southwestern Pennsylvania reach veterans through programs that exclusively serve veterans while other partners design food distributions specifically for this population.
Beyond our drive-up distributions, we also offer a Military Share Program in partnership with the Veteran’s Leadership Program that serves military families at a time and location that is convenient for them.
Lending a hand is something we can all do
Whether by donating, volunteering or advocating, we all can play a role in ending veteran hunger. Every dollar donated can provide up to five meals to the community. Learn more about ways to give here.
By lending your time and talents you can help us prepare food for distribution or help load food into cars at a distribution event. Learn more about volunteering here.
By advocating for anti-hunger policies and programs, you will help ensure that the help our veterans need is there for them when they need it. Learn more about our advocacy efforts here.
Together we can ensure that none of our veteran neighbors must battle with hunger after putting it all on the line for our county.