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Army Retiring Meal Cards to Cut Dining Hall Lines

Photo by: 
Steven L. Shepard/Presidio of Monterey Public Affairs
Sunday, August 19, 2018

The Army meal card is going the way of the musket, gray PT uniforms and getting paid in cash on the 1st and 15th of every month. Under an experiment that started last fall, the manual meal card system will soon be replaced with a more modern system using the Common Access Card.

Army posts are expected to adopt the CAC payment by Oct. 1.

The biggest benefit of the new system, developed by the Army’s Software Engineering Center, is faster-moving lines because a simple swipe of the card will verify a soldier is entitled to meals.

The Army has used meal cards since World War II, sometimes requiring them to be punched by an attendant and other times having to be flashed as someone signed in or out of a dining facility. Old meal cards are often collector’s items.

The checking, punching and signing process held up lines at dining facilities, especially at large facilities at training locations.