Pfc. Jada McCoy, a religious affairs specialist with the Fort Cavazos Garrison Chaplains Office, stacks cans of tuna onto a shelf Aug. 19, 2022, at the Fort Cavazos Food Pantry. (U.S. Army photo)
Pfc. Jada McCoy, a religious affairs specialist with the Fort Cavazos Garrison Chaplains Office, stacks cans of tuna onto a shelf Aug. 19, 2022, at the Fort Cavazos Food Pantry. (U.S. Army photo) (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT CAVAZOS, Texas — Instacart, the leading grocery technology company in North America, and Military Family Advisory Network, a national nonprofit dedicated to supporting military and veteran families, announced on Jan. 16, a new partnership to provide free groceries and delivery to military families following relocation to a new base.

Through the initiative at Fort Cavazos, Instacart and MFAN will provide more than 100 military families with $100 in monthly Instacart Health Fresh Funds stipends for three months upon relocation to the Great Place. Families can use the Fresh Funds stipends to purchase nutritious food and other essentials from local retailers, including ALDI. The Fresh Funds can also be used to cover the cost of delivery to help busy military families spend more time settling into their new communities and less time traveling to the store.

Designed to help ease the transition and resettlement process for military families relocating to Fort Cavazos, the program is part of a broader pilot MFAN recently announced to support military family well being.

“MFAN believes in bringing the best partners together to meet the data-informed needs of the military families we serve. As we identify dignified, scalable and measurable solutions to support those experiencing food insecurity, there was no better solution than Instacart and the Fresh Funds stipend,” said MFAN President and Executive Director Shannon Razsadin. “We know that food insecurity is a symptom of broader challenges. Through the MFAN network, together alongside Instacart and our other partners, we will connect families to a network of support while simultaneously ensuring their family has immediate access to healthy food.”

The program is also part of Instacart’s and MFAN’s continuing efforts to advance the White House’s National Strategy on Hunger, Nutrition and Health. As part of that strategy to end hunger and reduce the incidence of diet-related disease, the White House challenged public and private sector organizations to work together to expand access to nutritious food for communities that have historically faced high rates of food insecurity, including the military community.

Col. Lakicia Stokes, U.S. Army Garrison - Fort Cavazos commander, said a partnership meant to provide Fort Cavazos families with essential resources and supplies during a permanent change of station will make a positive impact.

”By offering vital resources and community support services, these families will experience a smoother transition and integration into their new environment,” she said. “This collaborative effort can alleviate stress and uncertainties associated with relocation, fostering a sense of belonging and support. Ultimately, the partnership enhances the overall well-being of new families, contributing to a more positive and cohesive community environment. The support from organizations dedicated to assisting our newly arrived Soldiers and their families during the PCS process is invaluable for our community.”

One in six military and veteran families experience food insecurity or hunger, according to MFAN’s latest research, higher than the national average (12%). Among enlisted families, that number climbs to nearly one in four families. Texas is among the states that MFAN’s 2021 survey respondents reported the highest frequencies of military and veteran family food insecurity at 26.1%.

MFAN’s research also found that PCSing can cause even more strain on families, including financial stress due to moving costs and cost-of-living changes.

“Instacart is on a mission to help every family access the nutritious food they need, and that includes families who sacrifice so much for our country every single day,” said Laura Anderson, director of social impact at Instacart. “With food insecurity rates rising in the military community and relocation demands contributing added stress and strain for families, we’re proud to partner with MFAN and use our Instacart Health technology to help ensure members of the military and their families get a fresh — and healthy — start in their new homes at Fort Cavazos.”

Stokes said the support from organizations dedicated to assisting families who have just arrived to Fort Cavazos helps to improve quality of life and supports overall readiness.

“This support through innovative methods by organizations such as these as well as the many others in this Central Texas Community, and across the nation, supplements our own ongoing efforts through our Installation Reception Company, Chaplains and Army Community Service,” she stated. “These partnerships not only provide essential resources but also symbolize a commitment to assisting in improving the quality of life on the Great Place. By ensuring a seamless transition through the provision of necessary supplies and information, these organizations contribute to the readiness and morale of our Soldiers. Their dedication allows our families to feel supported and empowered as they navigate the challenges of relocation, reinforcing the strength and cohesion at Fort Cavazos.”

There are also year-round resources available at the Great Place including the Fort Cavazos Food Pantry, located at the Main Post Chapel. They serve anyone with a valid ID card, veteran’s ID card or Department of Defense card.

“The Fort Cavazos Food Pantry is here to help military families, veterans and retirees that may be facing food insecurity or food scarcity, whether it is a one-time occurrence or an on-going need,” said Teresa Parris, administrative support specialist with the Fort Cavazos Garrison Chaplains Office. “No judgements.”

The food pantry is open 9 to 11:30 a.m. on Monday - Wednesday and Friday, 1 to 4:30 p.m on Thursday and 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Friday. They do accept donations of unopened, unexpired shelf-stable food products, unopened cleaning products and personal care items. Donations can be brought to the Main Post Chapel during normal business hours. If a unit or office would like to organize a food drive and drop off large amounts of donations, they can call the Garrison Chaplains Office by calling 254-288-6545 or email Teresa Parris at teresa.a.parris2.civ@army.mil.

The military relocation assistance program at Fort Cavazos is part of Instacart’s work under its sweeping Instacart Health initiative. Through Instacart Health, the company is using its technology, partnerships, research and advocacy to fight nutrition insecurity, inspire healthy choices and scale food as medicine programs.

Editor’s note: Instacart contributed to this article.