FORT STEWART, Ga.— Parents of school age children on Fort Stewart take notice, the Department of Defense Education Activity is reconciling unpaid balances for the Student Meal Program before the end of this school year.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Agriculture subsidized the National School Lunch Program, to include the DoDEA SMP, so students could receive free meals, but that subsidy has since expired.
“The Student Meal Program has returned to a pay-as-you-go program,” said DoDEA Americas Logistics Chief Mike Ryan. “The program receives limited appropriated funds support, which means the program is made sustainable through revenue from parents whose children participate in the SMP. The school meal program could be suspended or eliminated if it can’t maintain fiscal self-sufficiency.”
Ultimately, if parents don’t reconcile their school meal debt, it could jeopardize the continued operation of the school meals program in their community.
Brian Perry, Community Superintendent for South Carolina-Fort Stewart Community DoDEA Americas Southeast District, praised Fort Stewart families for keeping up with their student’s meal balances and emphasized the importance managing accounts on a regular basis.
"Thank you to the families who have paid off their students school meal accounts at our Fort Stewart DoDEA schools,” he said. “We appreciate our families for keeping up with their accounts and encourage all parents and sponsors to log into their online Titan accounts regularly to manage their balances.”
DoDEA Americas operates 50 schools in two districts located in two countries, seven states, and one territory across three different time zones. Three of those schools reside on Fort Stewart. Around 50% of DoDEA Americas’ students participate in the SMP.
“The DoDEA Americas School Meals Program is dedicated to building student health and academic achievement in our communities,” Ryan said. “Daily access to nutritious foods is the foundation for students to achieve their full academic potential. The cafeteria staff in our schools does incredible work providing budget friendly, nutritional meals for our students.”
Parents can bring cash to their respective schools or log into their Titan Account family.titank12.com to pay off school meal balances. They can also set up recurring contributions to avoid falling into a large debt.
“Creating an online account is certainly the preferred method of paying for school lunches,” Ryan said. “Parents can fund the online account with a checking or savings account, or link a credit card.”
The Free and Reduced Meals program is another way to avoid accumulating large school meal debts. An approved meal application may qualify families for benefits from local, state and federal agencies, too.
“Eligibility for free meals or reduced-price meals is determined by a combination of income and family size,” Ryan said. “Many military families can qualify, and the best part is the application is anonymous.”
DoDEA Americas’ mission is to educate, engage, and empower military-connected students to succeed in a dynamic world.
“Partnerships with families and military communities are an essential element to student-centered excellence,” Ryan continued. “We all have a vested interest in working together to ensure the long-term sustainability of the student meal program.”
Fort Stewart families who have questions about their student meal account balances are asked to contact their school’s front office for more information.