All children enrolled in Department of Defense schools overseas will continue to get free meals through June, 2022, military exchange officials announced.

Families can choose to participate and receive free reimbursable meals, which are subsidized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, at participating schools. The USDA recently extended the waiver it granted last October to the DoD School Food Authorities, operated by the Army & Air Force Exchange Service, Navy Exchange Service Command and Marine Corps Community Services, to provide the free school meals during the pandemic.

Last year, there were more than 47,000 students who qualified, based on their enrollment in 111 Department of Defense Education Activity schools overseas.

To participate, students must have a Department of Defense Education Activity student ID number and a student meal account. For those who already have these accounts, no action is required. Parents of students without an account should create an account at their local military exchange customer service area.

Students enrolled in the DoDEA Virtual School also qualify, as long as they have a DoDEA student ID and a student meal account

During the 2020-2021 school year for example, AAFES served an average of 17,700 meals each day, for a total of more than 3 million meals over the school year, according to the AAFES school meal program web page.

Karen has covered military families, quality of life and consumer issues for Military Times for more than 30 years, and is co-author of a chapter on media coverage of military families in the book "A Battle Plan for Supporting Military Families." She previously worked for newspapers in Guam, Norfolk, Jacksonville, Fla., and Athens, Ga.

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