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Due to the ‘grossly Costly’ Cost of Living in New York City, Military Families Have No Choice but to Rely on Food Banks for Survival

Jaime Billert, who grew up in a military household, thought she understood “sacrifice,” but nothing prepared her for a transfer to New York City, where exorbitant food prices force her to feed her growing family without meat.

“It’s significantly more costly here,” said Billert, 31, who lives in Staten Island base housing with her three children and Coast Guard husband Kyle. “It’s truly all-encompassing because when you relocate as a military family you no longer have family connections for things like childcare.”

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Northern Illinois high-school science teacher Billert moved with her family in 2019.

As NYC daycare is pricey, she stays home with her children, ages 9, 4, and 2. Their $900 budget—including diapers and food—prevents them from driving. Billert limited her children to four liters of milk.

The family gets food from a Staten Island military and veteran food bank twice a month.

25% of military families are food insecure, per Rand Corporation data.

Linda Ollis runs the SSG Michael Ollis Freedom Foundation to honor her son, who was killed in Afghanistan in 2013. Billert and other Staten Island military families use the organization-supported Fort Wadsworth Food and Essential Closet.

“It’s an indignity,” Ollis told The Post. Military families serve.

Coakley agrees. Blue Star Families New York Tri-State Chapter Director and Ford Wadsworth pantry manager. The mother-of-four told The Post that Staten Island’s twice-monthly food bank, funded by local organizations, has helped 2,300 military families since January 2022.

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Food insecurity has many names, said Coakley, 48. Because they relocate every two to four years, some think military families can’t manage money. Military spouses must resign, find new jobs, and pay expensive moving costs.

Families from low-cost places move to New York, where car insurance triples, and wonder, “What just happened?” We felt fine.”

Coakley said tri-state veterans and active duty personnel are ashamed to use the pantry. She has turned the area into a community hub where veterans can acquire benefits information and family members of active-duty soldiers can find Amazon and other local employment.

“A living allowance that falls short of what the actual cost of living requires” can make it hard for servicemen and their families stationed here, according to one critic.

Coakley, whose husband Joe is a Coast Guard marine enforcement officer, said many pantry users live in New Jersey because they can’t afford Staten Island.

“The stigma associated with using food assistance programs was a barrier noted by stakeholders, as was a general lack of knowledge about programs and eligibility requirements, long application processes and limited food pantry hours,” the Rand Corporation, a public policy think tank, reported in January 2023.

Staten Island Borough President Vito Fossella and US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand held a press conference last year to emphasize the economic challenges of active-duty military troops in New York.

“Our family has been stationed in the NJ/NY area for a few years now,” wrote one anonymous pantry consumer to Coakley in an email published by The Post this week.

Our cost of living rises annually. With a family of six, our weekly grocery bill grew dramatically without changing what we bought for the house. The base food pantry lowers our monthly food bills.

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Billert’s pantry saved him. Chicken and ground beef patties. “We got those,” she replied.

Shelf-stable and pantry milk supplement Billert’s three children’s monthly milk budget.

Her careful planning lets the family pay $80 a month for a local gymnastics program for their 9-year-old and $75 for their 4-year-old. Inflation had increased sacrifices.

Billert adds, “When gas hit a high, we really cut back. Instead of driving, we hiked in Staten Island. She said her husband biked or walked to his military job after gasoline topped $5 per gallon earlier this year.

Billert worries about the future with a new baby.

“How do we save?” asked. Preparation?

Sapna Pal
Sapna Pal
Hello viewers, my self sapna. I am working as a content writer from last 5 years. In where i uptated fresh news of new jersey and some other area and provience of united state of america. For daily news of newjersey just visit my website


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