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Congressman Al Lawson

Representing the 5th District of Florida

U.S. REPS. AND U.S. SENATOR REQUEST VA SECRETARY REPORT ON VETERAN HUNGER

November 8, 2017
Press Release

WASHINGTON –  U.S. Representative Al Lawson, along with five of his colleagues and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (NY), wrote Secretary David Shulkin of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to request that the agency annually share information on the number of veterans who struggle with food insecurity. Beginning November 1, 2017, the VA started collecting information regarding food insecurity among veteran’s, agency-wide.

“We ask that you provide a report on the status of veteran food security and hunger screenings to relevant House and Senate oversight committees by November of 2018, along with recommendations about further actions that could be taken to assist veterans who are determined to be food insecure, including pilot programs to test the feasibility of SNAP enrollment and applications assistance by VA personnel,” the members wrote in their letter to Secretary David J. Shulkin. “It is imperative that Members of Congress are briefed by the Administration the progress of this screening tool as well as VA programs and personnel efforts to connect those in need to SNAP and other social services.”

“As we prepare to honor the men and women on Veteran’s Day who have served our country, it is crucial that we know how many of our nation’s veterans and their families are struggling to put food on the table,” Rep. Lawson noted. “These screenings will go a long way in helping Members of Congress and policymakers understand the severity of this problem and identify steps we can take to support our veterans.”

“Asking this screening question is an essential first step to better understand the scope of food insecurity among our nation’s veterans,” says Abby J. Leibman, president & CEO of MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger. “We urge the Department of Veterans Affairs to implement appropriate systems and processes to directly help food insecure veterans in applying for and enrolling in nutrition assistance programs like SNAP.”

Representative Lawson was joined by Members of Congress who have direct jurisdiction over veterans and hunger issues: Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (NY) of the Senate Agriculture and Armed Services committees, Reps. Lujan Grisham (NM) and James P. McGovern (MA) of the House Agriculture Committee, Seth Moulton (MA) of the House Armed Services Committee, Tim Ryan (OH) of the House Veteran Affairs Subcommittee on Appropriations, and Tim Walz (MN) of the House Agriculture and the Veterans’ Affairs Committees.

U.S. Reps. J. Luis Correa (CA), Peter A. DeFazio (OR), Julia Brownley (CA), Dwight Evans (PA), John Garamendi (CA), Denny Heck (WA), Tom O’Halleran (AZ), Jimmy Panetta (CA), Chellie Pingree (ME), Jacky Rosen (NV), and David Scott (GA) also signed the letter.

Read the full letter here.