Smith // Caleb Randall-Bodman // 202-225-2633
Scott // Derrick Manning // 202-225-2171

Chairmen Smith and Scott Lead Letter to Offer Recommendations for Addressing Food Insecurity in the U.S. Military

WASHINGTON, D.C. – This week, Representative Adam Smith (D-Wash.), Chair of the House Armed Services Committee; Representative Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), Chair of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel; Representative David Scott (D-Ga.), Chair of the House Agriculture Committee; and Representative Jahana Hayes (D-Conn.), Chair of the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Nutrition, Oversight, and Department Operations led 27 of their colleagues across the House in signing a letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III outlining recommendations for the basic needs allowance (BNA) implementation to effectively combat food and financial insecurity for low-income servicemembers.

“As Members of the House Committee on Agriculture and the House Committee on Armed Services,” the Members wrote to Secretary Austin, “we share your desire to address food insecurity for servicemembers and look forward to working together on this issue.”

The Members recommend that the Department of Defense consider the following actions to make the BNA “as effective as possible in combatting food and financial insecurity for low-income servicemembers”:

  • Ensure the basic needs allowance is an “opt-out” benefit, automatically enrolling all who are eligible based on the Department’s screening.
  • Utilize Basic Housing Allowance exclusion authority to the greatest extent possible in order to determine BNA eligibility for servicemembers located in areas with a high cost of living.
  • Certify eligibility for the allowance annually to reduce unnecessary administrative burdens for both the Department and servicemembers.
The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22) included a basic needs allowance (BNA) for low-income servicemembers in the U.S. military.

The full text of the letter can be found here.