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Military bases gear up to help service members beat food insecurity

An estimate by Feed America lists as many as 160,000 active duty military members facing food insecurity.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Food insecurity is a problem millions of Americans from many different walks of life face each day. However, one sometimes overlooked group is active-duty military servicemembers.

Feed America lists as many as 160,000 active duty military members facing food insecurity.

The Navsta Mayport Chapel holds a Thanksgiving food basket giveaway every year for the men and women in the military.

As a new mom and a junior-level service member, Theresa Bendig knows just how important these events are. 

People come in a junior ranking like myself and have families," Bendig said. "Like in my case I am a single parent so I rely heavily on assistance and the support of my military community."

The salaries for junior-level servicemembers like Bendig fall between $20,000 and $30,000 annually, according to militarybenefits.info.

The COVID-19 pandemic also plays a role in food insecurity.

“In relation to COVID, that’s really hit people really hard if they had a working spouse, they no longer have that additional income," Bendig said.

NAS JAX, the Mayport Naval Station and the Kings Bay Naval Station each hold food giveaways with the goal of letting military members and their families know they have support.

“It is our primary concern it is the number one concern so we even extend our hours so they match beyond what our normal working hours or shift," Bendig said. "So that sailors can come in and receive the guidance the assistance just whatever they need from us we’re there to provide it."

Military members in need of help can reach out to their commanding officers to sign up.