The Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) is providing meals for military dependent children attending many Department of Defense Education Activity (DODEA) schools overseas.
Since schools have closed in reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic, children who were receiving meals in school are now attending virtual lessons while remaining safe at home. In an attempt to lessen the burden on families who have children at home, AAFES has begun a "grab and go" school meal program for students in Europe, Japan and South Korea.
The program has been running since early March in South Korea and was recently expanded to other locations. More locations may be added as conditions dictate.
The bulk of meal programs at DODEA overseas schools are run by AAFES; more than 2.5 million meals are provided each year. Nearly 10,000 meals are being provided to schoolchildren each week under the emergency program.
Under the program, families with schoolchildren are directed to stop by a centralized location to receive their meals. Exchange personnel and teachers are on hand to greet the students and ensure social distancing.
"The Exchange's mission is essential, and the team continues to lean forward to support military communities overseas," said Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Luis Reyes, the exchange senior enlisted adviser. "Even though classes aren't meeting in person, children are still learning in virtual classrooms, and the Exchange's school meal program will continue to serve them. The Exchange is living out its core value of family serving family."
For parents of children now restricted to home, the meal distribution is convenient and one less thing to worry about in this time of uncertainty. For children, the meals are a fun and exciting way to break up the monotony of staying at home and a chance to see their teachers and others from school, if only for a short time.
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