Fort McCoy News Sept. 9, 2016

Food-service program feeds thousands at exercises

STORY & PHOTOS BY SCOTT T. STURKOL
Public Affairs Staff

More than 7,000 cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs) were distributed and thousands of meals were served in July to troops at Fort McCoy participating in exercises and other training.

A similar effort took place in August and was an example of the scope of work of the food-service program on post, said Fort McCoy Food Service Manager Andy Pisney with the Logistics Readiness Center's (LRC) Supply and Services Division.

"It's a mission with many moving parts," Pisney said.

Pisney leads the LRC's Food Program Management Office (FPMO), which includes food-service specialists, quality-assurance evaluators, and support staff within the Subsistence Supply Management Office (SSMO). The FPMO and SSMO, in turn, work with food-service prime vendor Sysco Foods of Baraboo, Wis., and food-service contractor DCT Inc.

Service members at Fort McCoy for training line up for breakfast at one of the installation's newest dining facilities, building 1672.
Service members at Fort McCoy for training line up for breakfast at
one of the installation's newest dining facilities, building 1672.

Fort McCoy has four modern and 32 renovated World War II-era dining facilities. During exercises, such as the Warrior Exercise (WAREX) in July and the Combat Support Training Exercise in August, the two largest modern facilities take on the bulk of the feeding mission while the older facilities are signed out by units.

"We use the World War II-era dining facilities for the transient-training units that have food-service personnel assigned to them," Pisney said. "They draw them and then cook for themselves. The four modern dining facilities are run by our food-service provider."

The dining facility in building 1672, which was completed in 2015, is one of the newest at Fort McCoy and was used for the first time in full capacity in July, Pisney said. The facility has a capacity of 1,428 people and is outfitted with the newest equipment.

"That is a beautiful facility and works exactly as it was designed to do," Pisney said. "All of our modern dining facilities, when operated, are staffed by our food-service provider, which is a key organization in completing the feeding mission during large exercises."

Assistant Dining Facility Manager Ben Burkhardt with contractor DCT Inc. said his company has an excellent working relationship with the FPMO and the effort to feed thousands of service members is a challenge they meet daily.

"It takes good staff and … a lot of preparation and motivation and drive to keep up with the high number of people we are feeding," Burkhardt said. "Feeding (thousands of troops) out of one dining facility is definitely demanding."
Planning for food-service support for large exercises starts well in advance, Pisney said.

"We may not plan in great detail a year out, but we know when the exercises are going to be held," Pisney said. "We can base some decisions on our experiences from previous exercises and have a running start on how we are going to support upcoming exercises.

The planning becomes more detailed about six months out from the start of a large exercise, Pisney said. "We plan everything all the way down to where things will be placed on a serving line. It really gets into great detail."

Details include knowing which units are participating, how much food will be needed at the dining facilities, the number of field rations and MREs needed, and more.

Manager Kelly Tilbury (left) with the Logistics Readiness Center Subsistence Supply Management Office talks with a customer in building 490.
Manager Kelly Tilbury (left) with the Logistics Readiness Center
Subsistence Supply Management Office talks with a customer in
building 490.

"We plan the menus and we get right down to, for example, how many boxes of cake mix we will need," Pisney said. "When you have an exercise and open up large dining facilities, there is a requirement for a huge amount of food in a short amount of time. These huge surges have to be projected and forecast, and that's where we work with Sysco to do a lot of planning to be ready."

Food Service Specialist Zandra Myers with the FPMO said synchronization of effort across the food-service program leads to success.

"In food service here at Fort McCoy, we are all one team," Myers said. "When the contractor is successful, we are successful. So, we all go above and beyond what we have to do to make sure that we provide quality food service to every service member who is coming here to train.

"Together, we prepare for these surges in training and we know what we are up against," she said.

"We've been very successful, and it's very important to meet our mission. Sysco, too, has been great when we have higher (feeding) numbers during exercises making sure we get our supply in a timely manner."

SSMO Manager Kelly Tilbury said the office orders, receives, and distributes all food and rations necessary for each exercise as well as for units conducting weekend, extended combat, or annual training.

"We have to order rations, such as MREs, through the Defense Logistics Agency," Tilbury said. "Likewise, we also complete the ordering for food for the dining facilities through our prime vendor, Sysco Foods."

After delivery, rations are distributed to units, Tilbury said. "And it can be in large amounts. During WAREX, we distributed 7,049 cases of MREs, which translates to 84,588 meals. We also issued 2,787 modules of unitized group rations and 96,660 pounds of ice."

After successful completion of an exercise or training event, everyone takes some time to reflect while still working on the next event, Pisney said.

"They are all kind of like the unsung heroes when you are talking about logistics," Pisney said.

"Food service is a training enabler, and we don't ever want it to be a distractor. The mission always comes first, and if we can support the mission without distracting from it — that's perfect.

"I appreciate everything this team does," Pisney said. "We are here to support. It's our mission, and we always try to do the best we can."

Tilbury added, "The best thing about our team is that we work as a team. We know that we can go through some hard and difficult times, but we count on each other and we trust each other. It's a total team concept here."

For more information about Fort McCoy's dining facilities and food-service capabilities, call Pisney at 608-388-4739.