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Military families increasingly relying on food banks

Food bank demand rises among military families
Food bank demand rises among military families 02:00

Killeen, Texas — U.S. Army Pvt. Gypsy Jones is used to military lineups, including the line at the local food pantry, where a growing number of military families are turning for help. 

The single mother's military paycheck doesn't cover her house payment, utility bills, clothing for her three young daughters and groceries. Jones says about 80% of the food in her house comes from pantries. 

Food Care Center in Killeen, Texas, home of Fort Hood, is one of several pantries Jones frequents. 

Raymond Cockrell, who runs the pantry, said he is seeing more people in uniform than ever before. 

"Five years ago, when I started, we had about 600 military families come through our door," Cockrell said. "Our most recent year that just ended, we had almost 2,000 families come through our doors." 

Nationwide, at least one in six military and veteran families were food insecure in 2021, up from one in eight families just two years earlier, according to the Military Family Advisory Network. 

Pantries are facing their own hurdles. A dollar donated used to cover seven meals at the Food Care Center, but with inflation it now pays for only six. 

If she could not rely on food pantries, Jones said she would have to take on a second or third job to make ends meet. She said that while some soldiers won't come out of shame, for her, there's no dishonor. 

"There's nothing wrong with seeking help when you need it," she said. 

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