(334) 844-3299
Detailed Record
Share this Article

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

APA Citation:

O’Neal, C. W., Lucier-Greer, M., Lewis, C., & Farnsworth, M. (2023). Use of food distribution resources among military families with young children since the COVID-19 pandemic. Public Health Nutrition, 26(10), 1968-1975. https://doi.org/10.1017/S1368980023001738

Abstract Created by REACH:

Despite being a universally insured and consistently salaried population, some military families are vulnerable to food insecurity and, in response, may seek external resources to alleviate this hardship. This study explored food distribution resource utilization among 8,326 Army and Air Force families who applied for supplemental childcare support during the COVID-19 pandemic. The relationships among food distribution resource use and financial well-being (e.g., capacity to absorb a financial shock, being on track with financial goals), as well as military (e.g., branch, rank), and nonmilitary (e.g., number of dependent children) family characteristics were examined. Overall, families who reported having used food distribution resources at least once in the past year tended to have lower financial well-being.


Physical health

Branch of Service:

Air Force
Multiple branches

Military Affiliation:

Active Duty

Subject Affiliation:

Active duty service member
Spouse of service member or veteran
Military families


Adulthood (18 yrs & older)
Young adulthood (18 - 29 yrs)
Thirties (30 - 39 yrs)
Middle age (40 - 64 yrs)


Quantitative Study
Cross-Sectional Study
Secondary Analysis


O’Neal, Catherine W., Lucier-Greer, Mallory, Lewis, Crystal, Farnsworth, Meredith


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 six months of 2021.Setting:A national sample of eligible families completed an online survey.Participants:8,326 enlisted military families with an active duty service member in the Army or Air Force who applied for supplemental childcare funding distributed by National Military Family Association.Results:13.2% of the families reported utilizing a food distribution resource in the past 12 months. Those with lower financial well-being were more likely to utilize such resources. Older (OR=1.04, 95% CI=1.02, 1.05, p<.001), single-earner (OR=.73, 95% CI=.61, .89, p=.001) families with a lower rank (OR=.69, 95% CI=.64, .75, p<.001) and Army affiliation (compared to Air Force) (OR=2.31, 95% CI=2.01, 2.67, p < .001) were more likely to utilize food distribution resources. Members of certain racial/ethnic minority groups were more likely to utilize 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<.001).Conclusions:These results identify the extent of food distribution resource utilization in military families with young children approximately one 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.

Publisher/Sponsoring Organization:

Cambridge University Press

Publication Type:

REACH Publication
Featured Research

Author Affiliation:

Department of Human Development and Family Science, University of Georgia, CWO
Department of Human Development and Family Science, Auburn University, MLG
National Military Family Association, MF


food insecurity, food distribution, resource utilization

View Research Summary:

REACH Publication Type:

Research Summary

REACH Newsletter:

  October 2023

This website uses cookies to improve the browsing experience of our users. Please review Auburn University’s Privacy Statement for more information. Accept & Close