Operation Nourish: Mobilizing Veterans to Combat Food Insecurity
by Mary Beth Bruggeman
As our country continues to navigate the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is no doubt our social support network has been debilitated–evidenced by the lines of cars snaking for miles, with families waiting for hours to pick up food at pantries, schools, sports stadiums and more. Food insecurity statistics in America are staggering. Since the beginning of the pandemic, rates of household food insecurity have doubled and the rates of childhood food insecurity have quadrupled.
And while communities where The Mission Continues serves are disproportionately impacted by hunger, COVID-19 has also led to sharp increases in loneliness, social isolation, and job insecurity, which takes a huge toll on mental health, affecting the veteran community in serious ways.
To address these challenges, The Mission Continues announced the launch of Operation Nourish. Operation Nourish is a nationwide initiative to generate the resources and awareness that prioritize veterans’ mental health by mobilizing them in service of combating food insecurity.
Like many other times of crisis in our country, veterans are answering the call. For the first time in our history, we’re mobilizing our highly trained national force of veterans, volunteers and community partners in service of one singular mission: to help fight hunger in communities across the country. Continued service and peer support is a proven approach to mitigating the negative factors impacting mental health of veterans. Our work, as shown in the Empowered Veteran Index, is designed to offer exactly those kinds of service opportunities.
From distributing food to homebound seniors and hosting neighborhood cookouts, to assisting in distributing produce boxes though local food pantries and to fostering and planting seeds for community gardens, our platoons are pulling together, innovating, and adding much needed capacity to help feed our communities and to provide opportunities for veterans to continue serving.
And we need your help. You can join the fight to support veterans in three simple ways:
- Donate: Support veterans as they do what they do best: deploy to where the fight is. Ensure veterans have the resources they need to increase access to food in their communities.
- Volunteer: Join a platoon near you—or online—to serve. Here are upcoming events that focus on meeting the needs of food insecurity.
- Spread the word: Share our call to action on your social media channels and include the hashtag: #OperationNourish.
Consider joining The Mission Continues in supporting Operation Nourish. The work we do in serving others and connecting veterans does more than fill bellies. It nourishes our heart and soul. It nourishes our purpose. It nourishes justice. At a time when people are examining how they can contribute to a higher cause, here is something we can all do to make the world a better place.
The Mission Continues is a national veterans organization dedicated to the empowerment of veterans as community-based leaders. We invest in veterans and under-resourced communities, developing new skill sets and equipping a growing veteran volunteer movement with the tools to drive positive change. Our programs in 50+ cities nationwide deploy veteran volunteers alongside nonprofit partners and community leaders to combat food insecurity and strengthen communities. Through this unique service model, veterans are provided opportunities for connection and personal growth while generating visible community impact. To learn more, visit http://www.missioncontinues.org.
Mary Beth Bruggeman graduated in 1999 from the U.S. Naval Academy, and was commissioned into the Marine Corps as a 2nd lieutenant. She spent eight years on active duty as a combat engineer officer, serving tours in Miramar, CA as a platoon commander and then deploying to Iraq in 2003 as a company commander. Following her transition off of active duty, Mary Beth worked for four years for iRobot Corporation, then started and built a business as a Fitness and Nutrition Coach. Mary Beth is currently the President of The Mission Continues, a national nonprofit that empowers veterans to continue their service here at home. She and her husband, Brian (a retired Marine), live in northern Virginia with their three children.
© 2020 The Havok Journal