School lunch prices will increase at Defense Department schools on overseas bases in the fall.

Elementary school lunches will rise to $2.75, and secondary school lunches will cost $3. It's a hike of 25 cents or less, depending on branch of service and location.  

The increase is a result of rising operational costs and federal requirements, according to Army and Air Force Exchange Service officials, who operate the school lunch program at overseas Army, Air Force and some Marine Corps bases.

Prices will be increasing gradually over the coming years, AAFES officials said in a news release.

One source said the increases are part of an effort to bring all overseas school lunches to the same price, regardless of whether the school is located on an Army, Navy, Air Force or Marine Corps base. Information was not immediately available from the Department of Defense Education Activity regarding such plans.

Families who qualify for the Free and Reduced Price Meals program won't see any changes. Under federal guidelines, reduced-price meals will continue to cost 40 cents each. 

The military services are the executive agents for school meal programs at DoDEA schools overseas, and the military exchange services generally operate the school lunch programs, providing the food.  

The price reflects a 25-cent increase on Army and Air Force bases. AAFES operates those school lunch programs, as well as the school lunch program for DoDEA schools on Marine bases on Okinawa. 

At Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, prices at the elementary school increase by 10 cents, to $2.75, and at the high school by 15 cents, to $3, said Bryan Driver, spokesman for the plans, policy and analysis directorate of the Marine Corps' Business and Support Services. Marine Corps Community Services operates the school lunch program at Iwakuni. 

Prices will also increase at DoDEA schools on Navy bases, said Kristine Sturkie, spokeswoman for the Navy Exchange Service Command.  

DoDEA schools are participants in the Agriculture Department meal program. The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act requires DoDEA schools to raise paid student lunch prices to a level comparable to the rates used for Agriculture Department reimbursement. 

"To meet this requirement, prices in [schools outside the continental U.S.] will be gradually increased over the coming years," according to an AAFES news release.

Karen Jowers covers military families, quality of life and consumer issues for Military Times. To reach her, email

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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