Combating Food Insecurity Among Coastal Veterans
Veterans may face challenges after service, but food insecurity shouldn’t be one of them. Statistics show that 1.4 million veterans are food insecure, and only about half of those food insecure veterans live in households that participate in SNAP benefits (formerly known as food stamps).
With the rise of food insecurity since 2020 for many veterans, programs across the United States are working to end hunger. Cape and Islands Veterans Outreach Center (CIVOC), Island Harvest, and the UCLA Foundation are some of the organizations impacting food insecurity through extensive new approaches and community outreach. With support from the Bob Woodruff Foundation and craigstable, a Craig Newmark Philanthropies initiative, these organizations help veterans, and their families access daily meals, groceries, and accessible other resources such as home delivery when needed.
Cape and Islands Veterans Outreach Center (CIVOC)
Since 1983, CIVOC has supported veterans and their families in the Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket area. In the past year, through its new refrigerated mobile pantry, CIVOC’s Vineyard Haven Food Pantry expanded its reach to veterans on the Outer Cape Cod and Islands in Massachusetts. Through the mobile food pantry, over 600 veterans and their families in Outer Cape Cod and Islands now have monthly food deliveries in Vineyard Haven alone. CIVOC also delivers to homebound veterans, and ensures they, too, can receive groceries and prepared meals.
Island Harvest – Operation: HOPE
Island Harvest, through its Operation: HOPE, a community mobile market program, feeds Long Island’s veterans, active-duty personnel, and military families. Since 2022, Island Harvest will have provided over 81,000 pounds of food to more than 2,600 military families, through drive-through distributions and client-choice food pantries. Despite the challenges that arose related to COVID-19, Island Harvest adapted its methods to ensure the safety of clients, volunteers, and staff members. Operation: HOPE’s mobile market also offers their version of a home delivery program so that veterans, particularly those who are homebound, receive food.
UCLA Foundation – UCLA Meals Partnership Program
The UCLA Meals Partnership Program, in collaboration with Village for Vets and VA West Los Angeles, provides food security assistance to veterans experiencing homelessness in the greater Los Angeles area. Within the last year, the UCLA Foundation has distributed 75,000 meals to more than 3,000 veterans on the West LA VA campus. By leveraging UCLA’s resources, the program delivers fresh meals to unhoused veterans while connecting them with vital services, such as emotional and social well-being resources, legal assistance, and job placement programs. This program strategically addresses the immediate need for food and, at the same time, helps veterans focus on their well-being and housing goals.
While food insecurity affects thousands of veterans across the United States daily, organizations like CIVOC, Island Harvest, and the UCLA Foundation feed their veteran community one meal at a time. Their dedication to their community and approaches help to address hunger among veterans and their families.