Army Spouse Launches First Community Food Pantry at Fort Leavenworth as Military Families Face Food Insecurity
FORT LEAVENWORTH, KS (November 22, 2022) - The sacrifices military families make to serve our country are profound, with many facing the added challenge of food insecurity. At Fort Leavenworth, U.S. Army spouse Monica Bassett is addressing this issue head-on. She serves her community with boxes of food donations, just as her husband serves in the military. She started all this out of her garage, but with the support of the community, Bassett will open the Stronghold Community Food Pantry on Tuesday, November 22. This is the first and only food pantry for all active-duty military service members at Fort Leavenworth.
"I am humbled by how the community has come together," said Bassett, founder of the Stronghold Community Food Pantry and the 2022 Armed Forces Insurance Army Spouse of the Year. "This is truly a space to do good."
Armed Forces Bank is partnering with Stronghold to provide the most-requested food items for soldiers and their families who are food insecure, as well as serving as additional donation drop-off locations (2901 South 4th St in Leavenworth and 320 Kansas Ave on Fort Leavenworth).
Armed Forces Insurance is supplying the permanent brick-and-mortar building to house the Stronghold Community Food Pantry at 655 Biddle Blvd at Fort Leavenworth.
Both Armed Forces Bank and Armed Forces Insurance will help ensure the pantry remains open even after the founder moves on to another base with her husband.
"The brave individuals who wear our country's uniform make sacrifices every day," said Tom McLean, Senior Vice President and Regional Military Executive for Armed Forces Bank. "We feel an obligation to support these military families so they do not have to worry about whether they can keep food on the table."
"Food insecurity is something no family should face, especially no military family. That's why Armed Forces Insurance is proud to support Monica and the Stronghold Community Food Pantry's mission of ensuring military families do not go hungry," said Arlen Briggs, President and CEO for Armed Forces Insurance. "Our military sacrifices a lot of things for our country. Being able to feed their families should not be one of those things."
To celebrate the opening of Stronghold Community Food Pantry, a ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, November 22, at the Armed Forces Insurance building – which now includes Stronghold – at 655 Biddle Blvd on Fort Leavenworth. Members of the media are invited to attend, but advance clearance is required. Founder Monica Bassett will cut the ribbon, with key representatives from Armed Forces Bank, Armed Forces Insurance, Stronghold Pantry and other community leaders on hand. The ribbon-cutting ceremony will include the introduction of the pantry's mission statement by Monica Bassett, as well as refreshments.
Stronghold Community Food Pantry is a not-for-profit, 100% volunteer-operated organization established with care and an intention to preserve the dignity and welfare of our military service members and families. The pantry is targeted to junior enlisted members who have fewer than four years of service – and who are at the highest risk for food insecurity – but open to all local service members in need. Fort Leavenworth is home to 650 junior soldiers/families on installation.
A recent study by the U.S. Department of Defense shows 24% of active-duty service members have experienced food insecurity, which refers to a lack of available financial resources for food at the household level. Service members often face distinct challenges that make it difficult to access the food they need to thrive. These challenges include the high cost of living, soaring inflation rates, frequent mandatory moves, high rates of unemployment for military spouses due to the transitory nature of the military and/or occupational licensing issues, and childcare expenses.
Food insecurity in the military ranks can lead to health issues for service members and negatively impact military readiness.
To date, more than 1,500 pounds of food have been donated for military service members on Fort Leavenworth. Starting November 22, the Stronghold Community Food Pantry will be open for donations onsite, as well as for distribution every Monday and Thursday from 8-11 a.m., and on the second and fourth Friday each month from 1-3 p.m. Distribution is by appointment preferably, but no one will be turned away. In addition, donations may be dropped off during business hours at Armed Forces Bank at 2901 South 4th Street in Leavenworth and 320 Kansas Avenue at Fort Leavenworth. All donations are reserved for Fort Leavenworth service members (no matter where they are dropped off).
"Each donation brings us one step closer to no soldiers or a dependent going hungry," said Bassett. "We are so grateful for the amazing support from Fort Leavenworth and the surrounding Leavenworth, Lansing and Kansas City communities. Together we can create change and lasting impact."
Bassett was selected as the Army Spouse of the Year by Armed Forces Insurance in March 2022 for her spearheading this impactful effort that improves the lives of military families. Monica is a mom of two and a military spouse to Major Gregory A Bassett for eight years. She is an avid volunteer and advocate for military families, especially those facing financial hardships and food insecurity.
"With an inflation rate still soaring and the holidays approaching, Stronghold Community Food Pantry is proud to support military service members and hope those in need sign up for a little added support," adds Bassett.
Service members in need of food assistance can discreetly order what they need online and schedule a pickup time. "Families are very grateful. They appreciate the anonymity and the fact they can come to a safe place to get help from someone else in the trenches," said Bassett. "There are hugs and tears flowing. It's a very supportive, beautiful moment."
To donate, volunteer or to learn more about Stronghold Community Food Pantry, visit strongholdfoodpantry.com
About Stronghold Community Food Pantry
Stronghold Community Food Pantry is a not-for-profit, 100% volunteer operated organization. It was built and established with care and intention to preserve the dignity and welfare of our military service members and Families. To donate or to learn more, visit strongholdfoodpantry.com
About Armed Forces Insurance Military Spouse of the Year®
The Armed Forces Insurance (AFI) Military Spouse of the Year® Award was founded in 2008 by Chris Hale, CEO of veteran-owned Neptune Holdings, and after nine years as title sponsor, AFI assumed ownership in 2018. The award is presented at a base, branch, and overall level each year to military spouses, making a difference in their communities and providing a collective voice for spouses around the world. Through a national nomination and voting process, these nominees are judged on five core criteria: overall involvement in the military community, exhibition of leadership skills, community building capability, communication skills, and overall personal story. With more than one million military spouses worldwide, this award program aims to shine a spotlight on the force behind our armed forces. For more information, please visit msoy.afi.org.
About Armed Forces Bank
Armed Forces Bank (AFB), founded and headquartered in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, is a full-service military bank committed to serving those who serve since 1907. With 23 locations, Armed Forces Bank has more on-installation locations than any military bank in the country. Armed Forces Bank provides affordable, personal and convenient banking and financial services to both active and retired military, as well as civilian clients in all 50 states and around the world. Approximately 75% of Armed Forces Bank associates have some type of military affiliation either by spouse, retired themselves or their children. For more information, visit http://www.afbank.com and follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram.
About Armed Forces Insurance:
Armed Forces Insurance was founded in 1887 by military leaders with a single mission: to protect the property of those who protect our nation. The company provides premium quality, competitively priced property, and casualty insurance to military professionals throughout the United States and overseas. Armed Forces Insurance understands that its members have unique circumstances and insurance needs, enabling the company to offer a level of personalized service that's unequaled in the industry. For more information, visit the website at www.afi.org or call 1-800-495-8234, and follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
SOURCE Armed Forces Bank