Soldiers on food stamps spike, Fort Bliss highlights services
POSTED: Thursday, February 20, 2014 - 7:00pm
UPDATED: Friday, February 21, 2014 - 10:05am
Fort Bliss, TX (KTSM) — More soldiers are relying on food stamps. It's a story we first brought to you last week... Today, we're learning about the different programs available at fort bliss to help military families through tough financial times.
Nationally there was a five percent rise of the number of military families using food stamps from 2012 to 2013. All according to data collected by national commissaries. Experts say one of the contributing factors to this rise is the 30-percent unemployment rate among military spouses.
Britni Yohannes is one of 400 military spouses at fort bliss who is currently unemployed. "I'm looking for something in the administrative field. I come here and they help me find jobs in the field that I'm looking for,” Yohannes, a mother and Army spouse said.
The Illinois native, moved here in December. Since then, she and her husband have been watching their budget. "We live in military housing so that helps out. Other than that we don't have too many bills to worry about."
Yohannes is an exception to the latest data, who doesn't rely on the program formerly known as food stamps. During Fiscal Year 2013, U.S. Commissaries received $103-million through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP.
Up from the $52.9million in 2009. while in El Paso County -- the number of residents using food stamps from December 2012 to 2013 has decreased by 8-percent.
Fort bliss officials acknowledge the trend But add, They're here to help with numerous programs tailored to soldiers and their families "We offer what's called a food voucher assistance and that is here through our program, the Financial Readiness Program,” Ana Hernandez a Financial Readiness Program Manager told us. "We have the Junior Family enlisted center which is under the umbrella of the armed forces. YMCA that is actually on Fort Bliss."
And classes ranging from dining on a time to getting a job, which Yohannes makes a priority. "No unnecessary spending!,” she told us. Along with her spending habits.
In addition to these services, Fort Bliss also offers jobs fairs for veterans and military spouses. These classes range from cooking to budgeting.
Another program they offer is help for spouses looking for jobs. Officials say they have 800 active members who are looking for employment in El Paso.
"We usually see over 230 - 250 clients each month,” Deana Garcia, an Employment Readiness Specialist said. "We helped over 54 military spouses find employment for just the month of January alone."
Garcia also said, they host hiring fairs, one of which will be taking place next week. The hiring fair takes place Thursday at the Centennial Building from 9 am to 1 pm.