Troops Can Soon Use Meal Cards at Base C-Stores

The Pentagon is testing a program to widen access to healthy food on military installations.

July 08, 2019

WASHINGTON—The Pentagon is launching a test program designed to improve nutrition for U.S. soldiers and airmen. Soon, troops can use their meal card entitlement to purchase food at base locations outside dining facilities. One caveat? The choices are limited to healthy foods, reports the Military Times.

Troops with the meal card benefit are entitled to eat three meals a day in the military dining facility, but they’re only eating an average of 1.3 to 1.5 meals per day there, said Charles Milman, former acting deputy assistant secretary of defense for military community and family policy. Often times, they are going outside the military dining facility to spend their own money—not the entitlement.

Although the Army and Air Force Exchange Service, or AAFES, still wants to keep the dining facility top of mind, they are paying attention to the trend and are employing a concept similar to campus dining programs at colleges and universities.

Soldiers and airmen at specific bases could use part of their meal entitlement at certain eateries that are run by the AAFES and to buy healthy items at exchange convenience stores, like at other locations selling food operated by Morale, Welfare and Recreation.

A working group is determining which foods at c-stores are considered “healthy.” But for now, some bases are offering healthy choices as grab-and-go options at fitness centers and food trucks.