Universal Pre-Kindergarten Meals

School Meals Program: Family Style Dining

DoDEA will implement universal full-day PK at most elementary schools beginning in school year (SY) 2024-25. The full-day PK program will include lunch served family-style in the classroom.

  1. Participation in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) is a requirement for enrollment in full day prekindergarten. 
  2. Households must pay for the full price and reduced-price meals served no later than the time of service unless the household is approved for free or reduced-price meals. 

Family-style dining is a meal service which permits children to serve themselves and make choices in selecting foods and serving size. The use of small pitchers, a limited number of portions on service plates, and adult assistance enables children to successfully serve themselves. Family-style dining is an enriching experience, and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends this as a best practice in the prekindergarten setting.

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Benefits of Family-Style Dining

  • Promotes Independence: When children set the table, pour their own beverages, and clean-up spills, they enhance their self-helps skills.
  • Develops Social Skills: Passing dishes, turn-taking, and engaging in conversations help build relationships and promote manners.
  • Supports Language Development: Mealtime conversations enhance a child’s vocabulary, model, language use, and encourage peer and adult interactions.
  • Reinforces Healthy Eating Habits: Children select the foods they want to eat and the portion sizes they take, which encourages trying new foods.
  • Strengthens Fine Motor Skills: Children who serve themselves develop dexterity, hand-eye coordination, and control.

Free and Reduced Meals Program

Households may apply for free and reduced meals beginning July 1st of every school year and must reapply every year since eligibility is only for one year. To apply for free and reduced-price meals you must have the following information:

  1. Student ID number, which is provided after enrollment via email.
  2. Service Member’s leave and earnings statement (LES) and spouse pay voucher if working or dual military.
  3. Student name as written on your enrollment/registration form.
  4. School district as listed in the meal application software:
    1. For DoDEA schools in the continental United States enter the name of the military installation at which you are assigned for duty, with the following exceptions: 1.  MCAS Beaufort – enter “Laurel Bay”; 2.  Puerto Rico schools – enter “Puerto Rico”.
    2. Guam schools – enter “DoDEA – Guam”
    3. Iwakuni – enter “DoDEA – MCCS Iwakuni”
    4. Navy sites (not Guam) – enter “DoDEA – Navy Exchange”
    5. For Army and Air Force military installation in Europe and Pacific, enter “AAFES DoDEA”

Important Note about household income:

  • Enter the full household gross pay (not after tax income)
  • Include spouse income
  • Do not include: housing allowance if overseas or if living in privatized housing stateside, COLA, imminent danger pay or hostile fire pay. 

Did you know?

  • Eligibility for free meals or reduced-price meals is determined by a combination of income and family size. Military families at most ranks can qualify.
  • An approved meal application may qualify your family for benefits from local, state and federal agencies.


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