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March 09, 2012


Post dining facilities promote good nutrition

Fort McCoy has taken a number of steps that have improved the nutritional standards in its dining facilities, said Andrew Pisney, installation Food Program Manager.

The improvements, although not directly related, support the goals of the new Department of Defense (DoD) obesity and nutrition awareness campaign and the objectives of March being Nutritional Awareness Month, Pisney said.

Diners choose nutritious food from the salad bar area during a meal in the Fort McCoy Installation Dining Facility, building 50. (File photo)

“Within the last year, we have made significant strides in providing healthier food items and by raising diner awareness,” he said. “We implemented a ‘Go for Green’ program, an educational program designed to help diners make good food choices.”

Each dining facility was issued posters, portable card holders and food identification cards to implement the program. Pisney said green, yellow and red cards are used.

The green cards indicate high-performance foods diners should eat often. Green foods include fresh fruits and vegetables, 100 percent juices, skim milk and lean meats.

Yellow foods are moderate performance foods diners should choose less often, he said. This category includes foods higher in fat and calories and lower in vitamins and minerals. Examples of this type of food are canned fruit in light syrup, canned vegetables, diet sodas and moderate calorie meats.

Red foods are performance-limiting foods diners should limit and are highest in calories, lowest in vitamins and minerals and may hinder performance. Pisney said red foods include fried meats, starches and vegetables served with sauces, canned fruit in heavy syrup, whole milk and regular soda.

The food service program, working with the installation Multimedia/Visual Information Branch, also has created several nutritional handouts, created a nutrition education center in the dining facility and created a seven-minute video outlining the Go for Green program, he said.

“We strive to provide high-quality food to the Soldiers stationed and training here so they can attain their peak performance,” Pisney said. “We also seek their input to help us choose menu items.”

First Lady Michelle Obama helped unveil the new DoD obesity and nutrition awareness campaign in February during a stop at a dining facility at Little Rock Air Force Base in Arkansas, according to American Forces Press Service.

The campaign seeks to make sweeping nutritional improvements militarywide for the first time in 20 years.

The campaign, developed by the Military Health System, will join forces with the military services to encourage people to make better nutritional choices. It will include updating menu standards at military dining facilities, assessing the nutritional environment of military facilities, and ensuring healthier food is available in dining facilities, schools and in places, such as vending machines and snack bars. These improvements will affect more than 1,000 dining facilities and nearly 1.5 million troops, Obama noted.

Obama cited a recent Army study that indicates a quarter of the nation’s 17-to 24-year-olds can’t serve in the military due to weight issues.

Others may pass weight standards but go on to struggle in basic training or suffer injuries due to years of inactivity and poor nutrition. This, in turn, results in higher costs for obesity-related injuries, health problems and dental care due to poor nutrition, Obama noted. The DoD spends up to $1.4 billion a year on health-related problems related to obesity — a “pretty staggering amount,” she said.

DoD created its campaign to address readiness, reduce cost and, above all, to improve the military population’s health, the first lady added.

The DoD always has taken a lead in setting standards for the nation, Dr. Jonathan Woodson, assistant secretary of defense for health affairs and director of the TRICARE Management Agency, noted at the briefing. In 1947, he said, the school lunch program was born after leaders noticed many military recruits were undernourished.

“We have an opportunity to take leadership in shaping nutritional attitudes for the nation as we face this epidemic of obesity and its consequences,” he said.

(Information from American Forces Press Service contributed to this article.)

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