Army Spouse Launches On-Post Food Pantry

Army Spouse Launches On-Post Food Pantry

Spouses posing at food bank
Photo by: Courtesy

Army spouse Monica Bassett is supporting soldiers and families who may need extra help through the recently opened Stronghold Community Food Pantry at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. 

What started in Bassett’s garage is now the first and only food pantry for active-duty service members at Fort Leavenworth. It opened Nov. 22 with support from Armed Forces Bank and Armed Forces Insurance.

“I am humbled by how the community has come together,” said Bassett, the food pantry’s founder. “This is truly a space to do good.”

A DoD survey of more than 1.3 million active-duty service members administered in 2020, during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, found that just over three-quarters of active-duty service members are food secure. About 24% of service members indicated experiencing food insecurity at some point in the year preceding the survey. 

Food insecurity is defined by the Department of Agriculture as a household experiencing “limited or uncertain access to adequate food.” It can involve relying on food that is less expensive and less nutritious, according to DoD. 

"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," Bassett said.

The Army has taken several steps to address food insecurity. Army Wellness Centers host classes on preparing quick, nutritious meals, while the Army introduced a pilot program to offer campus-style dining for soldiers and service members. Child and Youth Services recently implemented an initiative to ensure that on-post child development centers have healthy, standardized meals, according to DoD. 

The Association of the U.S. Army also is working to mitigate the problem. “Earlier in 2022, in support of AUSA helping soldiers and families struggling with food insecurity, AUSA pledged $1 million to Army Emergency Relief to help with assistance and to also promote financial education,” said Holly Dailey, AUSA’s director of Family Readiness. 

The donation seeks to address a major factor in food insecurity: financial readiness. “The leading cause of food insecurity is financial readiness,” retired Sgt. Maj. of the Army Dan Dailey, AUSA’s vice president for NCO and Soldier Programs, said at the time of the donation. “This is an excellent program. … It helps our soldiers in need while simultaneously promoting financial education.” 

At the Stronghold Community Food Pantry, service members who need 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,” Bassett said. “There are hugs and tears flowing. It’s a very supportive, beautiful moment.”

As she continues her efforts, Bassett is motivated to ensure soldiers and Army families can get assistance when they need it. "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."

Learn more about the food pantry here.