Today, we get a little Kate is Clueless and From The Mailbag mash-up, all about meal deductions.
Here's the email I received: "My grandson is in the first year of enlistment and we have been helping him with his finances. He explains his meal provisions and allowances and we just can't understand. It appears as though he gets a BAS allowance and is charged double this amount on his paycheck which may be 600 to 700 dollars a month. Is this what is actually happening? He eats most meals away from the mess hall because he finds the food not to his liking. He says that they say this is correct, is it?"
Well, this is one of those questions to which I think I know the answer, but I'm just not sure. However, I am absolutely positive that someone who reads The Paycheck Chronicles can answer this question.
Here's what I think I know: Everyone in the military receives Basic Allowance for subsistence (BAS). If you are required to use the dining facility, aka DFAC, aka mess hall, aka galley, aka chow hall, you will have a deduction for the amount of your meals. As I understand it, the meals deduction should be just about the same amount as BAS.
Does that sound right?
Once you answer the accounting part of the question, you have to address the other issue: people who are authorized to eat in the provided facility, and are paying for it via automatic deduction, and aren't eating there.
I have never understood not eating in an available military dining facility. I suppose that there are some awful chow halls out there, but the very few places I've eaten have had a wide variety of high quality food available at outstanding prices. Gosh, one place I've lived, the hospital galley was the best place on base to eat. I estimate that I ate there 2-3 times per week, and I often brought my kids. It was the popular "let's have lunch" place to go, and you couldn't beat the price. Where else could you get soup, a choice of entrees and sides, fruit, dessert, drinks and a salad bar for less than $5? We were sad that it wasn't open to the general population for dinner!
I'll be replying to this concerned grandfather soon, and I welcome your help as I answer the question. Fill me in!