With inflation tearing through the country, record breaking statistics show military families are struggling to put food on the table.
Heather Campbell, a registered Dietitian and seasoned Air Force spouse, recalls a time when her family was directly impacted by food insecurity. The stress surrounding providing nutritious meals for their growing family became an extreme burden and left them asking hard questions.
After Heather transitioned out of the work force to support her service member, reintegrating from a deployment, and expecting the addition of a baby girl to their family, the Campbells found themselves coming up short. With the loss of Heather’s income, an issue many military families are still dealing with today, the monthly grocery budget lost its flexibility. While reintegration doesn’t always come with unexpected budget items or extra expenditures, many times there is a price tag associated with merging two budgets back into one household. Not to mention the fact that diapers, wipes, and formula certainly has an impact on one’s bank account.
“I grew up in the military community and, as a military kid, I truly believed all of our needs were being met. As a military spouse with a degree and raising a young family, I couldn’t believe how quickly we fell into food insecurity. There was certainly a stigma around struggling. Now, I am committed to being part of the solution by educating my community and advocating for change.”Heather Campbell
Being a young family in the active-duty community, the Campbells missed qualifying for government assistance by a mere $100 a month. Factoring in student debt and the cost of a growing family, food insecurity was just one of the many pain points impacting their life style.
Recently, MFAN released the data they collected surrounding the issue of food insecurity. According to their research, four major causes were identified.
First, the cost associated with a growing family impacts service members’ ability to maintain financial stability.
Second, military spouse unemployment and underemployment also plays a significant role towards income production.
Thirdly, a recent PCS or relation can really throw a wrench in the proverbial grocery budget.
Finally, unexpected expenses or the need for emergency funds drastically impacts the average military family’s ability to keep their heads above water.
InDependent, a non-profit organization in the wellness community, has taken notice of the hardships military community members are facing and is stepping in to the gap by providing a new resource.
Heather Campbell, partnering with InDependent, has created a program designed to pick up where personal finance education leaves off. Her goal is to teach military community members how to implement smart financial decisions around grocery shopping and feeding their families well. Hoping to streamline and simply the process military families experience in putting food on the table, Heather started teaching in-person and virtual workshops called “Fuel the Homefront.”
In this two-part workshop, Heather laser focuses on two integral parts of overcoming food insecurity: finances and nutrition. While this workshop does not focus specifically on personal finance or overall budgeting, a direct emphasis is placed upon learning the skill of shopping for groceries on a budget and maximizing the nutritional benefit of the food we buy. Secondarily, Fuel the Homefront is leading the way in educating military community members on proper nutrition and how the food we eat keep our mind and body well.
Fuel the Homefront is free to attend and is jam packed with resources, “how-to” instruction, and a boatload of encouragement. The next two virtual workshops are coming soon in July, so make sure to visit the InDependent website to stay informed and join in the conversation.
“InDependent felt the need to provide this program because it was developed to teach financial wellness practices while incorporating nourishing our military families with nutritious food in a sustainable and accessible way.”Evie King, President, InDependent
Want to get involved?
InDependent is a non-profit organization and is always grateful for support. You can find out more about giving here. Additionally, military community members can volunteer and spread awareness about the mission and programs at InDependent.