U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

11/16/2023 | News release | Distributed by Public on 11/16/2023 13:38

How VA helps Veterans with food security and housing

No one should worry about whether they will have food on their plate or a roof over their head. But the reality is that hunger and homelessness are widespread problems that affect far too many people. The brave service members who have devoted their lives to serving our country should not face homelessness, hunger or uncertainty when they return home.

Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week is a time when people across the nation come together to draw attention to the problems of hunger and homelessness. Participating groups spend the week holding a series of educational, service, fundraising and advocacy events.

State of Veteran food security and homelessness

Many Americans are living on the edge, forced to choose between necessities like purchasing food, keeping a roof over their head or going to the doctor. Every day, countless Veterans struggle to pay rent and provide adequate nutrition for themselves and their families. We recognize that one homeless Veteran or food-insecure Veteran is one too many and concerted efforts are being made to alleviate this crisis.

According to Feeding America, the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, in 2022:

  • 17 million U.S. households were food insecure at some point (up 3.5 million from 13.5 million in 2021)
  • 12.1 million families with children in the United States were food insecure
  • More than 13 million children and 1 in 14 senior citizens were at risk of hunger
  • More than 49 million people in the United States-including Veterans-turned to food banks and community organizations to feed themselves
  • No state is completely food secure-people face food insecurity in 100% of counties in the United States
  • 33,129 Veterans experienced homelessness on a single night in January

What VA is doing about it

VA is proud to be a leader in the White House's National Strategy to end hunger by 2030. As part of this effort, we have made several commitments to reducing hunger among Veterans, their families and their caregivers.  

  • First, VA established the Veterans Food Security Office, becoming the first national health care system with an office exclusively dedicated to food security  
  • Second, VA is working to expand services for Veterans without regular access to fresh, healthy food. Leveraging food prescription programs increases access to onsite food pantries at VA medical centers through collaborations with non-profit organizations, researchers and other initiatives. This improves access to healthy food for Veterans  
  • Third, VA is committed to connecting eligible Veterans and transitioning service members to available local programs, information and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program enrollment assistance through the Transition Assistance Program and screenings at VA medical facilities
  • Finally, VA is growing the VA Healthy Teaching Kitchen Program. Through this service, Veterans learn how to choose and prepare healthy dishes with a hands-on approach that improves their health and well-being under the supervision of our registered dietitians.

VA offers many services to help homeless and at-risk Veterans:

  • Outreach, engagement, assessment and referral services, such as Health Care for Veterans (HCHV) and the National Call Center for Homeless Veterans, are the front doors to both VA homeless programs and the broader VA health care system.
  • Residential services, such as the HCHV Contracted Residential Services or Grant and Per Diem programs, provide temporary placement in the form of emergency or transitional housing for Veterans who need a place to stay right now.
  • Permanent housing services,such as the Supportive Services for Veteran Families and HUD-VA Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) programs, connect Veterans to affordable housing in their communities. These services come with either short or long-term rental subsidies, case management and varying levels of wrap-around supportive services to ensure that Veterans have all the necessary resources to stay housed.
  • VA also has programs to assist Veterans in the criminal justice system with accessing VA services. VA can also help Veterans gain meaningful employment and take care of their health needs through primary caretailored to the unique access barriers that Veterans experiencing homelessness face.

How to get help

If you are a Veteran who is homeless or at risk for homelessness, call the National Call Center for Homeless Veterans at 877-4AID-VET (877-424-3838). It is staffed 24/7 with trained counselors who can talk with you right now and connect you to your nearest VA for help.

If you are a Veteran who is food insecure or at risk of becoming food insecure, reach out to your local VA medical facility. VA medical facilities are staffed with qualified social workers, nurses and dietitians who can help. Find your local VA.

Learn about VA programs

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