Use of food distribution resources among military families with young children since the COVID-19 pandemic

Public Health Nutr. 2023 Oct;26(10):1968-1975. doi: 10.1017/S1368980023001738. Epub 2023 Aug 11.

Abstract

Objective: The present study examined military families' use of food distribution resources and military (e.g. rank) and non-military (e.g. race/ethnicity) characteristics associated with using food distribution resources.

Design: Secondary data analyses from a cross-sectional survey in the first 6 months of 2021.

Setting: A national sample of eligible families completed an online survey.

Participants: 8326 enlisted military families with an active duty service member in the United States Army or Air Force who applied for supplemental childcare funding distributed by National Military Family Association.

Results: 13·2 % of the families reported utilising a food distribution resource in the past 12 months. Those with lower financial well-being were more likely to utilise such resources. Older (OR = 1·04, 95 % CI = 1·02, 1·05, P < 0·001), single-earner (OR = 0·73, 95 % CI = 0·61, 0·89, P = 0·001) families with a lower rank (OR = 0·69, 95 % CI = 0·64, 0·75, P < 0·001) and Army affiliation (compared with Air Force) (OR = 2·31, 95 % CI = 2·01, 2·67, P < 0·001) were more likely to utilise food distribution resources. Members of certain racial/ethnic minority groups were more likely to utilise food distribution resources than White respondents (OR from 1·47 for multi-racial to 1·69 for Asians), as were families with more dependent children (OR = 1·35, 95 % CI = 1·25, 1·47, P < 0·001).

Conclusions: These results identify the extent of food distribution resource utilisation in military families with young children approximately 1 year into the COVID-19 pandemic. The results also identify characteristics associated with their use of food distribution resources. Findings are discussed with an emphasis on prevention and intervention implications for military families.

Keywords: Community sample; Family; Food distribution resources; Military.

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19* / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Ethnicity
  • Humans
  • Military Family*
  • Military Personnel*
  • Minority Groups
  • Pandemics
  • United States / epidemiology