How Many Veterans Are on Food Stamps? Examining the Alarming Statistics

When it comes to serving our country, there are few who do it quite like our veterans. These brave men and women make incredible sacrifices to defend our freedoms and way of life. Unfortunately, many of them return home to a different kind of battle – one that involves putting food on the table. It’s a sad reality that millions of veterans in the US rely on food stamps to make ends meet.

You might be surprised by just how many veterans are on food stamps. According to recent statistics, over 1.4 million veterans were receiving SNAP benefits (otherwise known as food stamps) as of 2016. This is roughly double the number of veterans who were receiving this kind of assistance just a decade ago. In other words, the problem is growing at an alarming rate and it’s one that we simply can’t ignore.

It’s not hard to see why so many veterans are struggling to get by. Many return home from service without the same job prospects and support networks they had before they enlisted. Some experience physical or mental health issues that make it difficult to work. Others simply find that life as a civilian is more expensive than they anticipated. Whatever the reason, it’s clear that supporting our veterans needs to be a top priority – not just out of gratitude for their service, but because it’s the right thing to do.

Historical context of food assistance programs for veterans

Food assistance programs for veterans have a rich history dating back to World War I. During the war, the government implemented programs like the War Risk Insurance Act of 1914 and the Vocational Rehabilitation Act of 1918 to assist veterans in various aspects of their lives, including securing employment and maintaining their health and well-being.

In the 1930s, during the Great Depression, food assistance programs for veterans became more widespread. The Bonus Army, a group of World War I veterans who had marched on Washington, D.C. to demand bonuses for their service, brought national attention to the challenges that veterans faced in obtaining basic needs such as food and shelter. This led to the establishment of programs like the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), which provided food and housing for unemployed veterans.

Following World War II, the government implemented programs like the GI Bill, which provided education and training benefits for veterans, but also included provisions for housing and subsistence. Additionally, the government established the Veterans Administration (VA) to provide medical care and other services to veterans.

  • Food assistance became a more formal part of VA services in the 1950s, with the establishment of the Veterans’ Canteen Service, which provided meals to hospitalized veterans.
  • In the 1970s, the government implemented the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP), which provided food assistance to low-income elderly individuals, including veterans.
  • More recently, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps, has been a primary source of food assistance for veterans.

Despite the availability of these programs, a significant number of veterans still struggle with food insecurity. According to a 2017 report from the Government Accountability Office, approximately 1.4 million veterans were receiving SNAP benefits, and the number of veterans receiving these benefits had increased by 50% between 2011 and 2016.

YearNumber of veterans receiving SNAP benefits
20131.1 million
20161.4 million

The reasons for this increase in food insecurity among veterans are complex and multifaceted, but include factors such as low wages, high healthcare costs, and limited financial assistance for education and job training.

Demographic breakdown: age, gender, ethnicity, etc.

It’s important to understand the demographic breakdown of veterans who are on food stamps. Here are some key statistics:

  • Among veterans who receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, approximately 37% are ages 18-39, 21% are ages 40-49, and 42% are ages 50 and older.
  • About 92% of veterans who receive food stamps are male, while only 8% are female.
  • The majority of veteran food stamp recipients (74%) identify as white, while 19% identify as black or African American, and 7% identify as Hispanic or Latino.

Overall, it’s clear that a significant percentage of veterans who rely on food stamps are older men who are white. However, it’s important to note that there are still many veterans from diverse backgrounds who are struggling with food insecurity.

Economic factors and veteran food stamp usage

Many economic factors affect the veteran community, and unfortunately, some veterans struggle to make ends meet. As a result, many veterans turn to food stamps to help feed themselves and their families. Below are some important economic factors that are contributing to the increase in food stamp usage among veterans:

  • Unemployment: One of the main economic factors affecting the veteran community is unemployment. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for veterans who served on active duty in the US Armed Forces at any time since September 2001 was 5.5% in 2019. This is higher than the overall national unemployment rate of 3.7%. Unemployment can make it difficult for veterans to pay for basic needs like food, shelter, and healthcare, which is why many veterans turn to food stamps.
  • Low wages: Even when veterans are employed, many struggle to make a living wage. According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, a full-time worker earning minimum wage cannot afford a two-bedroom rental home anywhere in the United States. This means that veterans who earn minimum wage or just above it may struggle to afford basic needs like housing and food without assistance from food stamps.
  • Disability: Many veterans who served in the military experience disabilities as a result of their service. These disabilities can make it difficult or impossible for veterans to work, leaving them reliant on disability benefits. According to the US Department of Veterans Affairs, as of September 2019, there were over 4 million veterans receiving disability compensation for service-related disabilities. These disability benefits are often not enough to cover all of a veteran’s basic needs, which is why many veterans turn to food stamps.

The numbers behind veteran food stamp usage

Food stamp usage among veterans has been steadily increasing in recent years. According to data from the US Department of Agriculture, in fiscal year 2016, 1.4 million veterans lived in households that received Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. That number increased slightly to 1.5 million veterans in fiscal year 2017. This means that approximately 8% of all SNAP households in fiscal year 2017 included at least one veteran.

YearNumber of veterans on food stamps
20161.4 million
20171.5 million

While these numbers may seem relatively small, they represent a concerning trend. Food insecurity is a significant issue facing many veterans, and food stamps can provide a vital lifeline for those struggling to put food on the table. However, more needs to be done to address the root causes of veteran food stamp usage, including increasing access to affordable healthcare, increasing the availability of affordable housing, and improving job opportunities for veterans.

Geographical distribution of veterans on food stamps

According to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), there were 1.4 million veterans receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, commonly known as food stamps, in 2018. That accounts for 7% of all SNAP participants and is a decrease from previous years.

  • The states with the highest percentage of veterans on food stamps are Mississippi, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Arkansas.
  • However, California has the highest number of veterans receiving SNAP benefits, with over 159,000 veterans enrolled in the program.
  • Other states with high numbers of veterans on SNAP include Florida, Texas, New York, and Pennsylvania.

The reasons for veterans needing assistance with food can vary. Some veterans may have disabilities or injuries that make it difficult to work, while others may struggle to adjust to civilian life after serving in the military. Additionally, the cost of living in some areas may be particularly high, leaving veterans with limited financial resources.

It’s important to note that receiving food stamps does not necessarily indicate that a veteran is living in poverty, but rather that they may need temporary assistance to supplement their income or to cover unexpected expenses. The USDA reports that the average monthly benefit for a veteran household receiving SNAP is $264.

StateNumber of veterans on food stampsPercentage of veterans on food stamps

While the number of veterans on food stamps has decreased in recent years, there is still a significant need for food assistance among this population. It’s important for policymakers and communities to recognize and address the challenges faced by veterans who may be struggling to make ends meet.

Comparison to non-veteran food stamp usage

While there is no exact figure for how many non-veterans are on food stamps, it is estimated that there are roughly 36 million Americans receiving SNAP benefits across the country. When comparing this number to the number of veterans receiving food stamps, it becomes clear that veterans make up a significant portion of the SNAP recipient population.

  • In 2015, the Media Matters website reported that there were approximately 3.7 million veterans on food stamps. This means that roughly 10% of the entire veteran population was receiving assistance from SNAP at the time.
  • According to the Department of Agriculture, roughly 40% of all SNAP participants are children under the age of 18. By contrast, only 8% of veterans are under the age of 30. This suggests that many veterans on food stamps are likely older adults who may not have the same job opportunities or financial stability as younger Americans.
  • The National Council on Aging also notes that many veterans who receive food stamps also have disabilities, which can make it difficult for them to maintain steady employment or secure sufficient incomes to meet their basic needs. In fact, the NCOA reports that nearly 20% of veterans receiving disability compensation from the VA also report difficulty affording food.

While some may argue that veterans should not be receiving government assistance due to their service to the country, the data suggests that many veterans struggle to make ends meet in the current economic climate. Until meaningful job opportunities and financial support are available to all Americans, including veterans, the need for food stamps and other assistance programs will likely continue to grow.

YearVeterans Receiving Food Stamps
20081.3 million
20101.5 million
20121.8 million
20141.7 million
20161.3 million

As the table above shows, the number of veterans on food stamps has fluctuated somewhat in recent years but has remained a significant issue for many former service members. While the current figure of 1.3 million veterans receiving assistance through SNAP is lower than the peak number of 1.8 million in 2012, it is still a substantial amount that cannot be easily ignored.

Causes of food insecurity among veterans

Food insecurity among veterans has been a growing concern over the years. In the United States, more than 1.5 million veterans are at risk of hunger, and about 10% of veterans have used food stamps in the past decade. Here are some of the causes of food insecurity among veterans:

  • Low income: Many veterans struggle to find employment post-service, leaving them with limited income. In fact, the poverty rate for veterans is higher than for non-veterans. Low income makes it difficult for veterans to afford nutritious food.
  • Disability: Veterans often come home with physical and mental injuries that prevent them from working full-time. Disabilities can increase expenses, making it difficult to purchase enough food.
  • High cost of housing: Housing is a significant expense for most Americans, including veterans. In many instances, veterans spend a significant portion of their income on housing, leaving little for food.

Access to healthy food options

Another challenge for veterans is not having access to healthy food options. Many veterans reside in areas that lack grocery stores or have limited transportation to access them. Some veterans rely on convenience stores, which typically do not stock fresh produce or healthy food items. This lack of access makes it difficult for veterans to acquire nutritious food.

Programs to assist veterans

There are a variety of programs available to assist veterans with food insecurity. Some programs provide financial assistance to purchase food, while others provide healthy meals at no cost. Here are some programs that assist veterans:

  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP): This program provides low-income individuals with financial assistance to purchase healthy food at grocery stores.
  • Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP): This program provides a monthly box of nutritious food to eligible veterans.
  • Wounded Warrior Project (WWP): This organization provides support and services to wounded veterans, including food assistance.


Food insecurity among veterans is a complex issue with multiple underlying causes. It is important for organizations and policymakers to recognize the challenges veterans face and provide the necessary assistance to ensure they have access to nutritious food.

Causes of Food Insecurity Among VeteransPrograms to Assist Veterans

Programs like SNAP, CSFP, and WWP are essential in addressing the food insecurity issue among veterans. It is crucial that more similar programs continue to be developed and implemented to provide the necessary support for our veterans.

Accessibility and effectiveness of veteran-specific food assistance programs

Unfortunately, many veterans struggle with food insecurity and rely on government assistance to make ends meet. According to the USDA, in 2018, there were approximately 1.4 million households with veterans receiving food stamp benefits. This number accounts for roughly 7% of all households that receive food stamps.

  • Accessibility: A major issue that veterans face in accessing food assistance is simply a lack of knowledge about the resources available to them. The process of applying for food stamps can be confusing and time-consuming, and many veterans are not aware of the veteran-specific programs that are available to them. Additionally, certain requirements, such as work or income verification, may disqualify some veterans from receiving benefits.
  • Effectiveness: Veteran-specific food assistance programs, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for Veterans (SNAP-V) or the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Emergency Food Assistance Program, aim to provide tailored support to veterans who face food insecurity. However, it is unclear how effective these programs are in reaching all eligible veterans and providing adequate support. More research is needed to determine the effectiveness of these programs.

Challenges for Veterans in Accessing Food Assistance Programs

A lack of knowledge about the resources available, confusion surrounding the application process, and eligibility requirements are all challenges that veterans face when seeking food assistance. Additionally, veterans who suffer from physical or mental disabilities may find it even more difficult to navigate the application process and meet the necessary requirements for eligibility.

Furthermore, many veterans may feel reluctant to accept government assistance, viewing it as a handout. For some veterans, accepting food assistance may feel like a blow to their dignity or a failure to support themselves and their families.

Effectiveness of Veteran-Specific Food Assistance Programs

While veteran-specific food assistance programs aim to provide tailored support to veterans, it is unclear how effective these programs are in reaching all eligible veterans and providing adequate support. More research is needed to determine the effectiveness of these programs.

Program NameProgram DescriptionEligibility RequirementsNumber of Participants
SUPPLEMENTAL NUTRITION ASSISTANCE PROGRAM FOR VETERANS (SNAP-V)A program that provides food assistance to low-income veterans and their families.Veterans and their families who meet income and other eligibility requirements.Unknown
US DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS (VA) EMERGENCY FOOD ASSISTANCE PROGRAMA program that provides food assistance to veterans experiencing an emergency or crisis situation.VA healthcare eligibility and demonstrated need for emergency food assistance.Unknown

While it is difficult to determine the effectiveness of these programs without knowing the exact number of participants, it is clear that there is a need for more support and resources for veterans who face food insecurity.

Health implications of food insecurity among veterans

Food insecurity is a growing concern in the United States, particularly among veterans. According to a report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, over 40 million people in the U.S. are currently receiving food stamp benefits. The report also highlighted that veterans are disproportionately represented in the food stamp program, with around 1.5 million veterans receiving assistance each month.

  • Food insecurity and malnutrition are major health concerns for veterans. Without access to nutritious food, veterans are at risk of developing chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure.
  • Food insecurity can contribute to mental health issues such as depression and anxiety, which can further exacerbate existing physical health problems in veterans.
  • Inadequate nourishment can lead to muscle loss and decreased physical strength that can make it difficult for veterans to perform daily activities and maintain independence.

Due to the unique challenges that veterans face, including physical and mental health issues and financial instability, they may be more vulnerable to food insecurity. Many veterans also face barriers to accessing healthy and affordable food, such as living in food deserts or lacking transportation to grocery stores.

The consequences of food insecurity can be severe, affecting not only physical health but also mental health, social relationships, and overall quality of life. It is essential that veterans have access to the resources and support they need to ensure that they have a reliable source of nutritious food.

YearNumber of Veterans on Food Stamps
20121.5 million
20151.4 million

This table shows the number of veterans receiving food stamp assistance over a span of six years. As you can see, the number of veterans on food stamps has been steadily increasing since 2009, with a peak of 1.5 million in 2012. These numbers highlight the urgent need for increased support and resources for veterans facing food insecurity.

Attitudes towards veterans on food stamps

There is a common misconception that individuals on government assistance, including food stamps, are lazy and unmotivated. Unfortunately, this stigma also extends to veterans who rely on these programs to feed themselves and their families.

However, the reality of the situation is much different. The number of veterans who utilize food stamps is alarming, and there are a variety of reasons why these individuals find themselves in this position.

  • Low wages: Many veterans struggle to find employment that pays a livable wage, and as a result, they turn to food stamps to supplement their income.
  • Service-related disabilities: Veterans who return home with physical and mental disabilities as a result of their service often struggle to maintain steady income, and may turn to food stamps as a result.
  • Unemployment: Even veterans who are able-bodied and capable of working may find themselves unemployed due to a variety of circumstances.

Despite these valid reasons for veterans needing assistance, many still face discrimination and judgement from individuals who believe that those who receive government assistance are undeserving and lazy. It’s important to shift our attitudes towards those in need, and instead, support and uplift them as they work towards a better life.

To get a clearer picture of just how many veterans rely on food stamps, take a look at the table below:

YearNumber of Veterans on Food Stamps
20171.5 million
20181.3 million
20191.2 million

These numbers paint a bleak picture of the reality many veterans face, and it’s important to keep in mind that these are individuals who have served their country and deserve our support and respect. Let’s work towards a society that uplifts and supports our veterans, rather than one that stigmatizes and marginalizes them.

Solutions to reducing veteran food stamp reliance

According to a report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), as of 2017, approximately 1.4 million veterans received food assistance through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly known as food stamps. This represents about 7% of all SNAP participants in the United States. This number has decreased by approximately 900,000 since 2013, demonstrating progress in reducing reliance on food stamps by veterans.

  • Increase access to education and job training programs:
  • Veterans face unique challenges when transitioning to civilian life, including a lack of job skills that are relevant in the civilian sector. By providing educational opportunities and job training programs to veterans, we can increase their employability, ultimately reducing their reliance on government assistance programs such as SNAP.

  • Improve access to healthcare:
  • Many veterans who rely on food stamps also struggle to access quality healthcare. By improving access to healthcare, veterans will be better-equipped to manage any health issues that may hinder their ability to work, providing them with increased independence and self-sufficiency.

  • Address homelessness:
  • Homelessness is a significant issue among veterans in the United States. By providing veterans with stable housing options, we can help them get back on their feet and ultimately reduce their reliance on government assistance programs such as SNAP.

The Role of Non-Profit Organizations in Reducing Veteran Food Stamp Reliance

Non-profit organizations play a critical role in reducing veteran food stamp reliance by providing a range of services that address the unique needs of veterans.

One example is “Soldier’s Angels,” a non-profit organization that provides various types of support to military personnel, including veterans. They offer a wide range of services, including providing food assistance, housing support, job training, and educational resources. Other non-profit organizations such as The National Veterans Foundation, The Fisher House Foundation, and The Pat Tillman Foundation also provide support and resources to veterans in need.

Non-Profit OrganizationServices Offered
Soldier’s AngelsFood assistance, housing support, job training, educational resources
The National Veterans FoundationMental health support, crisis intervention, benefits counseling
The Fisher House FoundationHousing support for families of hospitalized veterans
The Pat Tillman FoundationScholarships for veterans and military spouses

By partnering with non-profit organizations and supporting their efforts, we can help veterans overcome the unique challenges they face and lead fulfilling and self-sufficient lives without the need for government assistance programs like SNAP.

Frequently Asked Questions About How Many Veterans Are on Food Stamps

Q: How many veterans are currently receiving food stamps?
A: As of 2021, roughly 1.4 million veterans were receiving food stamps, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Q: What percentage of veterans are on food stamps?
A: Approximately 7% of veterans are on food stamps.

Q: Why are so many veterans on food stamps?
A: There are several reasons why veterans may need assistance with food. This includes low wages, disabilities, and difficulty finding employment after military service.

Q: Are all veterans eligible for food stamps?
A: No, veterans must meet certain income and asset requirements to be eligible for food stamps.

Q: Are there programs that help veterans access food stamps?
A: Yes, the Department of Veterans Affairs collaborates with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to provide assistance to veterans in accessing food stamps.

Q: Can veterans receive both food stamps and VA benefits?
A: Yes, veterans can receive both food stamps and VA benefits. Receiving one does not impact the other.

Q: How can I help veterans who are struggling with food insecurity?
A: There are various ways to support veterans in need, including volunteering at local organizations that provide food assistance and donating to national programs like the Feeding America Military Share program.

Thank You for Your Interest in How Many Veterans Are on Food Stamps

We hope these FAQs provided helpful information about the number of veterans on food stamps. Remember, many veterans face financial challenges and food insecurity, so donating or volunteering to support them can make a real difference. Thank you for reading, and please visit again soon for more informative articles.