Exchange Grab-and-Go school meals nourish spirits throughout military communities

March 30, 2020

DALLAS – As COVID-19 continues to create uncertainty, the Army & Air Force Exchange Service remains committed to supporting Soldiers, Airmen and military families, just has it has for nearly 125 years. With schools going virtual amid the pandemic, the Exchange has implemented a grab-and-go school meal program for students in Korea, Europe, Okinawa and Japan.

The program began in Korea in early March with schools in Europe, Okinawa and Japan coming on board March 23. At designated times each day, families stop by one of the centralized locations for the grab-and-go meals. Exchange associates and school personnel are present to monitor and enforce social distancing when students and their families arrive.

“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 advisor. “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.”

In the program’s first week, the Exchange served more than 3,100 meals to military children in Europe with Japan and Okinawa at nearly 3,000. To date, Korea has served more than 3,200 meals to students.

For Jovonna Nelson, a military spouse and mother of three living in Germany’s Kaiserslautern military community, the grab-and-go meals are a stress relief.

“With the kids having to be homeschooled right now, this relieves the burden of having to cook multiple times a day,” Nelson said. “The kids are excited and enjoy eating the school’s lunches.”

The Exchange operates the school meal program for military students overseas, serving more than 2.5 million meals a year.