Noting Veterans Day is coming up later this week, U.S. Rep. Al Lawson, D-Fla., continued his focus on hunger on Wednesday, writing to U.S. Veterans Affairs Sec. David Shulkin about veterans facing food insecurity.
Noting that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) started collecting information on veterans dealing with limited food at the start of the month, Lawson urged Shulkin to report to Congress on the matter. Lawson rounded up almost 20 members of Congress, including U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-NY, to sign the letter which focused on expanding Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to veterans.
“We ask that you provide a report on the status of veteran food security and hunger screenings to relevant House and Senate oversight committees by November of 2018, along with recommendations about further actions that could be taken to assist veterans who are determined to be food insecure, including pilot programs to test the feasibility of SNAP enrollment and applications assistance by VA personnel,” the members wrote. “It is imperative that members of Congress are briefed by the administration the progress of this screening tool as well as VA programs and personnel efforts to connect those in need to SNAP and other social services.”
Gillibrand and Lawson have teamed up before. Back in September, they paired up to unveil the “SNAP Standard Medical Expense Deduction Act of 2017.” The proposal provides seniors a deduction if they apply for SNAP benefits, giving them anywhere between an additional $7-$69 a month. Under the proposal, various federal agencies working with seniors and taking on poverty would be required to report on Congress regarding their best practices.
“As we prepare to honor the men and women on Veteran’s Day who have served our country, it is crucial that we know how many of our nation’s veterans and their families are struggling to put food on the table,” Lawson said on Wednesday. “These screenings will go a long way in helping members of Congress and policymakers understand the severity of this problem and identify steps we can take to support our veterans.”
During his first term in Congress, Lawson has focused on hunger issues, calling for expanding SNAP benefits.