School Meal Account Balance Often Overlooked

Kids getting school lunch

CAMP FOSTER, Japan -- With a large number of military service members overseas in the Pacific choosing summer as the time to make their permanent change of station moves, one thing they sometimes overlook when clearing their base installations is their children's school meal account balance.

School meals served at Army and Air Force locations in Korea and mainland Japan as well as all military installations in Okinawa are operated by the Army and Air Force Exchange Service. For PCSing service members whose children eat school meals at those overseas locations, the Exchange's customer service department should be one of the places they clear, but this is not always the case, according to Craig Masek, food program specialist for the Exchange's Pacific Region. 

"We have a large number of customers who forget to close their school meal accounts when they PCS," said Masek. "It's really easy to do and is simply a matter of going to the Exchange's customer service department and requesting their account be closed. Rarely is an account balance 'zero', so customers will need to pay off the balance or receive a refund for the remaining balance."

When military service members get to a stateside duty station, forgetting to close out their overseas school lunch balance can sometimes lead to a few challenges.

"It can be an issue involving the military service member going through the process of having to wire their balance to us or us having to wire a balance to them," said Masek, who explained that service members can save themselves a headache and some time by making a simple trip to their local Exchange prior to PCSing. "Where it can also be a big issue is in a case like Okinawa where Sailors and Marines have easy access to the Army and Air Force Exchange Service here, but once they leave, they may not see one of our facilities, so they won't have direct access to us. We're not common, for example, on Navy or Marine Corps bases." 

Exchange customers have the option to check or pay their school lunch balance online at; however, in order to actually close a school meal account, customers still have to physically visit their local Exchange. 

The Exchange serves more than 8,000 school meals per day and roughly 1.4 million meals each school year to students throughout the Pacific region. For additional information about the School Meal Program and to download a monthly menu, visit:

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