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 September 10, 2010


Food Service helps Soldiers accomplish mission, prepare for deployment

Story & photo by Tom Michele, Eagle Systems & Services

Food service at Fort McCoy’s dining facilities is important to the Soldiers training for deployment.

PHOTO: Soldiers relax during dinner at Fort McCoy Dining Facility (DFAC), building 2674. Photo by Tom Michele
Soldiers relax during dinner at Fort McCoy Dining Facility (DFAC), building 2674, one of the DFACs used by mobilizing and demobilizing Soldiers, Airmen and Sailors preparing to deploy in support of overseas operations or returning from tours of duty.

“The bottom line is that food is fuel for the Soldier,” said Andrew Pisney, Food Program manager.

Dining facilities (DFAC) for mobilizing and demobilizing Soldiers mostly are in the “Mob Alley” part of cantonment area at Fort McCoy. The main mob DFAC, building 2674, was built in 2004.

The other DFACs in Mob Alley have been extensively remodeled in the last two years. Building 2674 serves about 800 people per meal, with the other DFACs feeding 600 Soldiers per meal. Building 2674 is open 365 days a year. The others open depending on the number of Soldiers occupying the barracks day-by-day.

The DFACs serve breakfast and dinner. The Meal, Ready-to-Eat (MRE) is provided to mobilizing Soldiers for lunch. Soldiers get a mid-day hot meal at a DFAC during the in-and out-processing portions of their stay.

Mob Soldiers also use the dining structure at Contingency Operating Location (COL) Freedom for the times they are staying overnight for their training. Those meals are prepared in cantonment kitchens and transported to the COL where they are served.

The McCoy menu for dining operations is designed on a rotational 31-day master menu, Pisney said. “All DFACs are on the same menu for every meal. We follow Army menu and nutritional standards.”

An example of those standards is that, for breakfast, there will be two meat items besides bacon, two 100 percent juices, servings of bananas and one other fruit, one potato and one waffle/pancake/French toast item.

“That’s the foundation,” Pisney said. “From there you can build variety. There are only four main entrees: beef, poultry, pork and fish. The Army standard is to have two of them for every meal every day. Entrees are prepared in many different ways to provide variety on the menu. For example, fish may be salmon, cod or perch, it may be fried or baked, it may have a sauce with it.”

“We try to avoid excessive repetition,” Pisney said. “We often do incorporate popular items, like pizza, chicken nuggets, spaghetti and lasagna — things Soldiers like and value — more.”

Every DFAC has customer-service comment cards.

“We get 1,600 of them back a year,” Pisney said. “One group of Soldiers asked for honey packets. We saw that trend. So, now we put out honey packets.”

Another item Pisney said he saw on the comment cards was the request for Gatorade. “We contacted Pepsi and now have Gatorade as one of the beverages in the Pepsi beverage dispenser.”

“Meals are very personal to each and every person,” Pisney said. “We try to do our very best to please the Soldier. First and foremost is to have a happy Soldier.”

Pisney also explained the Army’s focus to provide nutritional requirements in the planning for and cooking of meals.

“It is a balancing act we do in offering nutritionally-balanced meals along with more popular items.”

Pisney provided examples. “We have 1 percent milk and skim milk in our milk dispensers, and we have soymilk available at every meal for Soldiers with lactose intolerance. The Army cares.”

“We offer low-fat salad dressings, and we don’t deep fry or grill everything,” Pisney added. “We bake many items, and with lower calories and fat, all to meet nutrition standards. The MREs are nutritionally balanced. They also are fuel for the Soldier.”

Pisney said the DFACs try to make a difference to the Soldiers every day, “actually three times a day. With our proper planning, unit commanders will never have to worry about their Soldiers getting properly fed. Good food service improves the Soldiers’ quality of life.”

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