Veteran Food Insecurity

All of us at BTI are grateful to those who served and we want to say thank you by bringing awareness to a problem affecting Veterans that is easily remedied - food insecurity.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, between 2015 and 2019 one in ten working-age veterans lived in food-insecure households. This a staggering statistic considering that close to 40% of food produced in the U.S. is wasted at the consumer and retail levels. This wasted food usually ends up in landfills where it breaks down and creates methane, a greenhouse gas that has the potential to trap heat 21 times greater than CO2. This means that throwing food away is not only wasteful but is also contributing to climate change. The solution is simple, divert edible food to those who need it before it becomes waste.

One example of this in action is a program at the Milwaukee VA Medical Center which captures excess food and distributes it to hungry Veterans. At the medical center, the kitchen staff collects unserved food, packages it, and freezes it to provide meals to Veterans in the Treatment Alternative Group. The meals are a comfort to participants in the group who battle hunger as well as other issues such as homelessness and substance abuse. Through this program, the VA saw a 5,620-pound reduction in wasted food and there was no additional cost.

The program goes beyond providing meals in Milwaukee. In an article published by the Department of Veterans Affairs in 2021, Casey Shimek the program manager for the Milwaukee VA’s Green Environmental Management System said, “We showed other VA facilities how they can reduce their environmental impact, feed hungry vets, improve outpatient programs and increase access to mental health care.” This is crucial because food insecurity doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Often there are other factors such as mental illness or financial insecurities which contribute to Veterans not having the food they need.

By combining meals with the Treatment Alternative Group, the VA is able to support both the physical and mental needs of the Veterans in their care providing a necessary service to the men and women who served all of us.


Jowers, K. (2022, September 15). Veterans hunger bill aims to connect those in need with more resources. Military Times. Retrieved November 10, 2022, from
Sprey, E. (2022, February 14). Photos shed light on food insecurity in post 9/11 Veterans. Retrieved November 10, 2022, from
Walter, David. (2021, November 24). Milwaukee VA honored for reducing food waste. Retrieved November 8, 2022, from