Can Military Get Food Stamps? Exploring the Options Available

Can military get food stamps? This is a question that has been asked quite often in recent times. Even though military service is considered to be a well-paid job, some people believe that serving in the military can turn out to be a financial burden at times. Considering the fact that military families may have to move around frequently or live in expensive areas, it’s not hard to see how military personnel could find themselves in need of financial assistance.

On the other hand, others argue that the military is a well-resourced organization that takes care of its own. They believe that military personnel get adequate salaries, healthcare, housing, and other benefits that the average American doesn’t enjoy. So, why the entitlement for food stamps? It may seem like a complicated issue at first, but the truth is that it’s not. The rules around eligibility for food stamps are quite clear, and, like everyone else, military personnel must meet certain criteria to qualify.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the question: can military get food stamps? We’ll examine the eligibility requirements for food stamps and highlight some of the challenges military personnel face when seeking financial assistance. We’ll also explore the pros and cons of using food stamps as a form of government aid. By the end of this article, you’ll have a better understanding of the issue and be better equipped to make informed decisions about government assistance for military personnel.

Military service and pay scale

Members of the military service, like any other citizens in the United States, are eligible to receive government benefits such as food stamps. Being in the military doesn’t automatically disqualify someone from receiving food stamps, and their eligibility is based on their income and household expenses.

For members of the military, their income is determined by their pay scale, which varies based on several factors, including their rank, time in service, and special pay such as hazardous duty pay. The military has a standardized pay chart, which outlines the pay rates for each rank and the number of years of service.

Factors that affect military eligibility for food stamps

  • The size of the household: The larger the household, the higher the eligibility limit for food stamps.
  • The income of the household: If the household income is lower than the eligibility threshold set by the government, members of the military can qualify for food stamps.
  • The number of dependents: If the member of the military has dependents, they may be eligible for additional benefits.

How military income is calculated for food stamp eligibility

When determining eligibility for food stamps, the military income of the household is calculated based on the military member’s base pay and any other allowances or special pays they may receive. For example, housing allowances and hazardous duty pay are included in the income calculation for food stamp eligibility. Once the income is calculated, it is compared to the eligibility threshold set by the government to determine if the household is eligible for food stamps.

Pay chart for military members

RankTime in serviceBase pay
PrivateLess than 2 years$1,514
Private2 years$1,638
Private First ClassLess than 2 years$1,734
Private First Class2 years$1,838
Specialist or CorporalLess than 2 years$1,982
Specialist or Corporal2 years$2,105
SergeantLess than 2 years$2,333
Sergeant2 years$2,467

It’s important to note that this pay chart is just a small sample of the total number of pay rates available for members of the military. The pay rates for each rank and years of service can vary significantly, based on the branch of the military and any additional pay or allowances granted to the service member.

Eligibility for food stamp benefits

Food stamps, now known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), provide assistance to low-income individuals and families to purchase food. However, not everyone who is in need of food assistance qualifies to receive SNAP benefits. Below are the eligibility requirements for SNAP benefits.

  • Income: Applicants must meet income requirements. Eligibility is based on the household’s income and the number of people in it. Generally, households must have gross income below 130% of the federal poverty level and net income below 100% of poverty. In some states, the income limit may be higher.
  • Resources: Households may not have more than $2,250 in countable resources, such as cash on hand, money in bank accounts, and investment accounts. This limit is $3,500 if a household member is disabled or 60 years of age or older.
  • Citizenship: Only U.S. citizens and certain lawfully present non-citizens are eligible for SNAP benefits. Undocumented immigrants are not eligible.

Additionally, able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDs) between the ages of 18 and 49 who are not working at least 20 hours per week or participating in a work or training program are subject to a time limit for receiving SNAP benefits. The time limit is three months out of every three years, unless certain exemptions apply.

If you meet the eligibility requirements, you may apply for SNAP benefits at your local SNAP office or online at the state’s SNAP website. The application process includes an interview and verification of income and resources. If approved, you will receive an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card, which works like a debit card and can be used to purchase eligible food items at participating retailers.


SNAP benefits provide much-needed assistance to low-income individuals and families to purchase food. To be eligible for SNAP benefits, applicants must meet income, resource, and citizenship requirements. If you meet the eligibility requirements, you can apply for benefits and receive an EBT card to purchase eligible food items.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is a federal program, formerly known as food stamps, that provides assistance to low-income individuals and families to help purchase groceries. The program is managed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and provides monetary benefits to eligible participants on an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card, which is used to purchase eligible food items at participating retailers.

Who is eligible for SNAP?

  • Individuals and families with low income and limited resources
  • Those who are unemployed or working low-wage jobs
  • Seniors and disabled individuals with fixed incomes
  • Legal immigrants who meet certain qualifications

How does SNAP work?

Eligible participants receive an EBT card with a certain amount of monetary benefits loaded onto it each month. These benefits can be used to purchase eligible food items, such as fruits, vegetables, meat, dairy, bread, and cereals, at participating retailers. Certain items, such as alcohol and prepared foods, are not eligible for purchase with SNAP benefits.

The amount of benefits a participant receives is based on their income, expenses, and household size. Participants must recertify their eligibility for SNAP benefits every six months and report any changes in income or household size. The program is designed to provide temporary assistance to those in need and is intended to help alleviate food insecurity and malnutrition.

Can members of the military receive SNAP benefits?

Members of the military, both active duty and reserve, are generally not eligible for SNAP benefits. However, there are certain exceptions, such as when a military family has unusually high expenses or faces significant hardships.

SituationEligibility for SNAP
Active duty military personnelGenerally not eligible
Reserve or National Guard members on active dutyGenerally not eligible
Military spouses or dependents living off-baseMay be eligible if they meet income and resource requirements
Disabled veteransMay be eligible if they meet income and resource requirements

Overall, the eligibility for SNAP benefits for military members or veterans is determined on a case-by-case basis. Those who believe they may be eligible are encouraged to contact their local SNAP office for more information.

Other government assistance for military families

In addition to food stamps, there are several other forms of government assistance available to military families. These include:

  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF): TANF provides financial assistance to low-income families or individuals in need. Eligibility requirements vary by state, but military families may be eligible if they meet certain income and asset limits.
  • Child Care Aware: This program helps military families find and pay for quality child care. They provide referrals to local providers and offer financial assistance to help offset the cost of care.
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP): Formerly known as food stamps, SNAP can help military families who are struggling to put food on the table. Eligibility is based on household size and income.

It’s important to note that some military families may also be eligible for housing assistance, healthcare, and education benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs or other government programs. These benefits can help ease the financial burden on military families and ensure they have access to the resources they need.

How to apply for government assistance

If you’re a military family in need of government assistance, it’s important to know how to apply. The process can vary depending on the program, but generally, you’ll need to provide proof of income, household size, and other personal information. You can apply online or in person at your local Department of Social Services or other government agency.


ProgramEligibility RequirementsBenefits
TANFVaries by stateFinancial assistance for low-income families
Child Care AwareMilitary families with childrenReferrals to local child care providers, financial assistance
SNAPBased on household size and incomeAssistance with purchasing food

While food stamps may be one form of assistance available to military families, it’s important to explore all of your options to ensure you’re getting the support you need. With programs like TANF, Child Care Aware, and SNAP, military families can find the financial and practical support they need to thrive.

Alternative Food Assistance Programs for Servicemembers

Servicemembers and their families who are struggling to make ends meet sometimes turn to food assistance programs to supplement their grocery budget. While military families are eligible for the regular Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), there are also alternative programs available specifically for servicemembers and veterans.

Here are five alternative food assistance programs that servicemembers and their families may qualify for:

  • The Armed Services YMCA (ASYMCA) Operation Hero Program: This program provides grocery gift cards to eligible military families facing financial hardships.
  • The Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) and Fisher House Foundation Commissary Gift Card Program: This program provides commissary gift cards to eligible servicemembers and their families facing financial difficulties.
  • The Veterans Affairs (VA) Stand Down Program: This program provides food, clothing, and other services to homeless veterans or those at risk of becoming homeless.
  • The Gary Sinise Foundation (GSF) Serving Heroes Program: This program provides gift cards to eligible wounded, ill, and injured servicemembers and their caregivers to help with grocery expenses.
  • The Salvation Army Emergency Food Assistance Program: This program provides food assistance to eligible low-income individuals and families, including servicemembers and veterans.

In addition, some military installations have their own food assistance programs, such as food pantries or on-base food banks. Servicemembers can check with their installation’s Family Support Center or other local resources to see what assistance programs are available.

Program NameProviderEligibility Requirements
Armed Services YMCA Operation Hero ProgramArmed Services YMCAOpen to active-duty, reserve, and National Guard families who demonstrate financial need. Family must have a military ID.
DeCA and Fisher House Foundation Commissary Gift Card ProgramDefense Commissary Agency and Fisher House FoundationOpen to active-duty, Reserve, and National Guard servicemembers and their families who demonstrate financial need. Must be referred by a Military Aid Society, such as the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society or Army Emergency Relief.
Veterans Affairs Stand Down ProgramVeterans AffairsOpen to homeless and at-risk-of-homeless veterans. Must have served in the military and have a discharge other than dishonorable.
Gary Sinise Foundation Serving Heroes ProgramGary Sinise FoundationOpen to post-9/11 wounded, ill, or injured servicemembers and their caregivers. Must demonstrate financial need and provide proof of service.
Salvation Army Emergency Food Assistance ProgramSalvation ArmyOpen to low-income individuals and families, including servicemembers and veterans. Must demonstrate financial need.

It’s important for servicemembers and their families to explore all the food assistance options available to them during times of financial hardship. Whether it’s a gift card from the ASYMCA or DeCA, or assistance from a local food pantry, these programs can help ease the burden of grocery expenses and ensure that military families have access to healthy food.

Importance of Access to Nutritious Food for Military Readiness

Proper nutrition is crucial to maintaining the physical and mental health required for military readiness. Military service members have unique dietary needs based on their level of physical activity, training schedule, and deployment requirements. Access to nutritious food is essential to meet these needs and maintain peak performance.

  • Improved Physical Performance: The physical demands of military training and deployment require optimal nutrition to ensure muscle and bone growth and repair. The consumption of nutrients such as protein, calcium, and iron promotes energy production, muscle recovery, and immune function.
  • Mental Well-being: The quality and quantity of food can directly impact an individual’s mental health. Studies have found that deficiencies in specific nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids, can lead to depression and anxiety. A well-balanced diet that includes essential vitamins and minerals can improve cognitive performance and promote mental well-being.
  • Reduced Risk of Chronic Diseases: Military personnel are at an elevated risk for developing chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and obesity due to the stress of combat, long hours, and irregular schedules. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains, combined with regular physical activity, can lower the risk of these chronic conditions.

Military personnel may face challenges in accessing healthy food options due to their deployed location, training schedule, or financial constraints. However, several programs and initiatives have been implemented to increase access to nutritious food for military members and their families. These programs include:

  • USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP): Service members and their families may be eligible for this federal program that provides assistance in purchasing food.
  • Military Family Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (MFSNAP): This program offers benefits to military families that may not be eligible for SNAP due to their higher income or financial resources.
  • Army Emergency Relief Society (AER): AER offers assistance to Army personnel to purchase emergency food during times of financial hardship.

Additionally, military installations must follow the nutrition standards set forth by the Department of Defense, which requires menus to meet specific nutritional and caloric requirements. The Military Health System provides educational resources and counseling services to service members to promote healthy eating habits and nutrition education.

Food GroupServing Size Examples
Grains1 slice of bread, 1/2 cup rice or pasta, 1 oz of cereal
Fruits1 medium apple, 1/2 cup canned fruit, 1/4 cup dried fruit
Vegetables1 cup raw or cooked vegetables, 2 cups of leafy greens
Protein3 oz of meat, poultry, or fish, 1 egg, 1/2 cup beans or tofu, 1 oz of nuts or seeds
Dairy8 oz of milk, 1 cup of yogurt, 1 1/2 oz of cheese

Ensuring access to nutritious food for military personnel is not only essential to their physical and mental well-being, but also crucial to fulfill their duties and responsibilities as service members. A well-balanced diet combined with regular physical activity is crucial to maintaining military readiness and ensuring our national security.

Impact of food insecurity on military families

Food insecurity in the United States has been an issue for decades, and unfortunately, military families are not immune to this problem. The United States Census Bureau reports that 11% of households with a member who is a veteran received food stamps between 2011 and 2015. This statistic is shocking, especially considering that active-duty military personnel are not paid high salaries and must provide for their families as well.

  • Food insecurity can lead to poor health outcomes
  • It can negatively affect military readiness and performance
  • Children of military families are at risk for developmental issues due to lack of proper nutrition

Military families who experience food insecurity are more likely to suffer from poor health outcomes, such as obesity and chronic health conditions, due to a lack of access to healthy food options. This can lead to a decrease in military readiness and performance, as service members may not be able to perform their duties to the best of their abilities. Children of military families who experience food insecurity are also at risk for developmental issues, which can have lasting effects on their overall wellbeing.

To combat food insecurity among military families, there are a few programs in place. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps, is available to service members who meet certain income requirements. The Military Hunger Prevention Act aims to address food insecurity among military families by providing additional funding to food banks and other hunger relief organizations that serve military families.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)Provides eligible service members with access to healthy food options through food stamps.
Military Hunger Prevention ActProvides additional funding to food banks and other hunger relief organizations that serve military families.

It is important for us to recognize and address food insecurity among military families, as our service members sacrifice so much for our country. By providing them with access to healthy and nutritious food options, we can help them maintain their physical and mental wellbeing, as well as support our military readiness and performance as a whole.

Stigma and Stereotypes Surrounding Military Use of Food Stamps

Food stamps, or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), are government assistance programs designed to give low-income individuals and families access to food. Despite the program’s intention to support those in need, there is a stigma surrounding individuals who use food stamps, including military personnel and their families.

The stereotype that military members should not be in a position where they need to rely on government assistance is common. This stereotype stems from the assumption that military members receive enough funds to support themselves and their families. However, this assumption is often far from the truth.

The Reality of Military Life and Food Insecurity

  • Many military families face financial challenges due to frequent moves and job instability.
  • Enlisted soldiers often make a low-income compared to the cost of living, particularly if they have dependents.
  • Deployments can lead to additional financial pressures, such as childcare costs and missed work opportunities.

These challenges can lead to food insecurity, which affects military families just as it would any other low-income family.

The Negative Impact of Stigma

The stigma surrounding military use of food stamps can cause harm in several ways, including:

  • Preventing individuals and families from accessing important assistance programs
  • Leading to shame and embarrassment for those who do rely on food stamps to feed their families
  • Contributing to the isolation of individuals and families who may feel judged or excluded because of their need for assistance

Breaking Down Stereotypes and Supporting Military Families

It is important to recognize and challenge the stigma surrounding military use of food stamps. By breaking down stereotypes, we can create a more inclusive and supportive environment for military families who may be struggling to make ends meet. We can support military families by:

Advocatingfor policies and programs that support the unique financial challenges faced by military families, particularly those with dependents
Sharing Resourceswith military families, including information on assistance programs like food stamps and local food banks
Creating Awarenessabout the realities of military life and the financial pressures faced by military families to break down harmful stereotypes

By working together to support military families, we can recognize and address the challenges they face and ensure that they have access to the resources they need to thrive.

Efforts to increase awareness and access to food stamp benefits for military personnel

As surprising as it may seem, many military families struggle to put food on the table, despite their service and sacrifice to the country. In response to this issue, there have been various efforts to increase awareness and access to food stamp benefits for military personnel. Here are some of them:

  • Outreach campaigns: To reach more military families in need, government agencies and non-profit organizations have launched awareness campaigns to promote food stamp programs and educate service members and their families about the eligibility requirements and application process.
  • Simplified application process: To make it easier for military families to access food stamp benefits, the government has streamlined the application process and waived certain requirements, such as the in-person interview, for those who are deployed or stationed overseas.
  • State-level initiatives: Some states have implemented their own programs to provide additional food assistance to military families, such as emergency food vouchers and grocery store gift cards.

Despite these efforts, there are still many military families who are not aware of or hesitant to apply for food stamp benefits. Some may feel embarrassed or believe that they do not deserve the assistance, while others may fear that it could affect their security clearance or career advancement. However, it is important for military families to know that food stamp programs are there to help them during tough times, and receiving this assistance does not make them weak or less capable.

To support military families in need, it is essential for communities and individuals to continue to advocate for food stamp benefits and remove the stigma around seeking assistance. By working together, we can ensure that those who serve our country have access to the basic needs of life, including food security.

Challenges in administering food stamp benefits to transient military families.

Military families face unique challenges when it comes to accessing social welfare programs and food stamp benefits are no exception. Transient military families face even greater hurdles when trying to access these benefits. Here are some of the challenges that arise when administering food stamp benefits to transient military families:

  • The complexity of the application process: Applying for food stamps can be daunting for anyone, but for military families, the process can be even more complicated. Transient military families may have difficulty providing all the necessary documentation required to verify their eligibility, such as proof of income and residency.
  • Frequent relocations: The nature of military life means that families may move frequently, sometimes several times within a few years. This can lead to disruptions in their ability to access benefits. In some cases, families may have to reapply for food stamps every time they move, which can cause delays and administrative headaches.
  • Lack of knowledge and information: Military families are often under-informed about the benefits and services available to them. This can make it difficult for them to know where to turn for assistance when they need it. Additionally, many families may be reluctant to seek out or apply for food stamps due to the stigma associated with receiving welfare.

In addition to these challenges, there are also systemic issues that can impact the ability of military families to access food stamps. For example:

According to a report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the Department of Defense (DoD) has not consistently shared information with the Department of Agriculture (USDA) about the number of military families receiving food stamp benefits, which can impede efforts to target outreach and assistance to these families.

There are also concerns that military families who do receive food stamp benefits may face challenges in using them. For example, families may be unable to find grocery stores that accept food stamps near their base or may struggle to budget effectively when dealing with fluctuating incomes and expenses.

Challenges in administering food stamp benefits to transient military families:
The complexity of the application process
Frequent relocations
Lack of knowledge and information

These challenges are not insurmountable, and there are steps that can be taken to improve access to food stamp benefits for transient military families. For example, the GAO report recommended that the DoD improve its data-sharing with the USDA and increase outreach to military families about the benefits available to them. Additionally, community organizations and advocacy groups can play a vital role in connecting military families with the resources they need to thrive.

By understanding the unique challenges faced by transient military families in accessing food stamp benefits and working to address those challenges, we can ensure that these families have the support they need to thrive and succeed.

Can Military Get Food Stamps FAQs

Q: Can active duty military members receive food stamps?
A: Yes, in certain circumstances, active duty military members and their families can qualify for food stamps.

Q: What are the eligibility criteria for military members to receive food stamps?
A: The eligibility criteria can vary by state and depend on factors such as rank, dependent status, income level, and expenses.

Q: Are there any restrictions on the types of food that can be purchased with food stamps?
A: Yes, food stamps can only be used to purchase certain types of food, such as fruits and vegetables, meat and poultry, dairy products, and breads and cereals.

Q: Can military members serving overseas receive food stamps?
A: No, military members serving overseas are not eligible to receive food stamps.

Q: Are retired military members eligible for food stamps?
A: Yes, retired military members and their families may be eligible for food stamps if they meet the income and other eligibility requirements.

Q: Will applying for food stamps affect a military member’s security clearance?
A: No, applying for and receiving food stamps is not considered a negative factor in the security clearance process.

Q: Can military members still receive food stamps if they receive other government benefits?
A: Yes, military members can receive food stamps even if they receive other government benefits, such as housing assistance or VA disability compensation.

Closing Thoughts

Thanks for reading our FAQs about military members and food stamps. It’s important to know that while some military members and their families may be eligible for food stamps, the eligibility criteria can vary widely. This resource can be a helpful supplement to a military family’s budget, but it’s important to also explore other sources of support and financial assistance. If you have further questions about your eligibility for food stamps, contact your local Department of Social Services or a military support organization. Thanks again for visiting and don’t forget to check back for more informative articles.