A new DOD pilot program will soon allow service members at a several installations to start using their government meal entitlement to buy food items from base outlets other than the dining hall, Military Times reported Friday.
The forthcoming study, based on similar campus dining options at colleges and universities, will attempt to steer service members toward healthier diet choices while also encouraging personal savings.
Through the program, service members at the test installations will be allowed to use some of their on-base meal allotment for purchasing certain food items at other installation locations, according to the report. The expanded food options will be limited to healthy food purchases, however.
The test installations, which are mostly yet to be identified, will include the Air Force Academy, a joint base installation, and up to five other Army or Air Force bases, according to Charles Milam, former acting deputy assistant defense secretary for Military Community and Family Policy.
The meal cards will be issued with a pre-loaded entitlement by installation officials and will test a mix allotment amounts. Testing may include pre-loading the card with half on-base dining facility meals, and adding another set monetary amount for use at other base locations. Items purchased at on base outlets outside the dining facility would be deducted from the set monetary amount.
Research has found that service members only take an average of 1.3 to 1.5 meals daily at their base dining facility, Milam said during a panel discussion at ADC’s 2019 Defense Communities National Summit last month.
“They’re going out of pocket, outside the military dining facility to spend their own money. So that entitlement is not being used,” he said. “We don’t care where they eat — we want them to use their entitlement and to eat healthy,” Milam added.
Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Solomon Cook