In time for Veteran’s Day, the Department of Veteran’s Affairs launched a screening initiative that will be implemented at all its facilities which is aimed at tackling food insecurity for veterans. Under this first-ever program, VA health-care providers will ask all patients whether they have run out of food or struggled to pay for it within the past three months. If they say yes, VA staff will connect them to a local food pantry or community program, share information on enrolling in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps) or refer them to follow-up care with a dietary counselor, if needed.
This is a critical step toward addressing hunger in a vulnerable — and often unreachable — population. Veterans frequently suffer from conditions, such as disability or mental illness that can stop them from seeking help. Some may shy away from the stigma against accepting handouts and this can also be a common deterrent from getting much needed help.