Food insecurity among Veterans: examining the discrepancy between Veteran food insecurity and use of the Supplemental Nutrition Program(SNAP)
Abstract: Food insecurity is linked to poorer physical and mental health, including an increased risk of suicide. Therefore, addressing the needs of food-insecure veterans is a national priority. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs conducts routine screenings to identify veterans at risk of food insecurity and refer them to sources of support. Nonetheless, food-insecure veterans are consistently less likely than their nonveteran peers to be enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). This research adds to the evidence base on food-insecure veterans who do and do not enroll in SNAP, as well as differences between food-insecure veterans' and nonveterans' reasons for starting and ending — or losing — SNAP benefits and patterns in these groups' use of other safety-net programs. For example, veterans' benefits could push their income above the eligibility threshold for SNAP. Although it is a federal program, SNAP is administered by the states, and the RAND analyses highlighted potential policy options to facilitate SNAP access for food-insecure veterans. Two groups of food-insecure veterans were much less likely to participate in SNAP than their nonveteran peers: older veterans and those who were not in the workforce because of a disability. Increasing SNAP access for food-insecure veterans who are falling through the cracks is one immediate step toward eliminating food insecurity, but there is also a need for early interventions to identify and support service members who are at risk of becoming food insecure as veterans.
Abstract: The Department of Veterans Affairs provided help for veterans who lost their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic. The program offered a housing stipend and 12 months of tuition and fees for veterans to retrain for high-demand occupations. More than 13,000 veterans used the program to enroll in training. VA collected a lot of data from schools and veterans on program benefits and challenges, but doesn't have any plans to use the data to formally evaluate the program. We recommended identifying lessons learned to help VA improve any veteran retraining efforts or other benefits programs where quick implementation is necessary.