You may have heard that the price of school lunches at many OCONUS Defense Department Education Activity (DoDEA) schools is facing a slight price bump for the next school year.
Officials say lunches are going to start costing $0.10 a meal more for elementary school kids, and $0.20 for secondary students. That brings prices to $2.50 and $2.75 per day, respectively.
That doesn’t seem like a huge bump, but it can add up for families who have multiple children eating lunch every day. It also may be a motivator to quit the hot lunch program for some families who do it out of convenience, but don’t like the food that much.
So what else is there to know about the price hike and how it might impact you? Here are three things to know:
1. Not every OCONUS location is impacted. That’s because sometimes “OCONUS” means something different than what we’re used to. Typically “OCONUS” refers to anything outside the lower 48 states and the District. Alaska, Hawaii and Guam, for example, are all considered OCONUS even though they are technically part of the US.
When school lunch officials say “OCONUS?” They mean everything except the U.S. territories and states. That’s because those locations are served by state agencies or school food authority programs instead. So if you’re in any of those places, you’re not OCONUS for this.
2. Not every OCONUS school lunch eater is impacted. If your family qualifies for free or reduced lunch prices, nothing is changing for you. Reduced lunch will remain at $0.40 a meal and free will still be, well, free.
3. Officials want it to be delicious and healthy. While no one likely remembers the school lunches of their youth with fond thoughts of deliciousness, officials do want kids to like them — and they do want them to be nutritious, they said. All of the meals have five parts: meat or a meat alternate, grains, fruit, veggie and milk and meet a calorie goal based on grad level, with less than 10 percent saturated fat and less than 740 mg of sodium. Kids are allowed to decline up to two of the meal parts, as long as they take a fruit or vegetable.
Fun fact: base commanders decide who provides the food at the DoDEA schools on their installation. That means if your kids don’t like the grub, you’re not stuck with that vendor forever. File an ICE comment about it and be the change you want to see, and all that jazz.