Sustainers partner to improve Iraqi Army food service
July 7, 2009
CAMP UR, Iraq - Sustainers visited an Iraqi Army dining facility to observe the IA food operations and service here June 20.
The visit was part of a continued partnership between the Iraqi Army and 287th Sustainment Brigade to improve the quality of food served to the IA and to ensure the quality continues after the drawdown of Coalition forces.
The food service team from the brigade toured two IA dining facilities, one for enlisted soldiers and one for officers.
"We invited the IA to Adder to show them what we do regarding food service and how we protect our service members," said Master Sgt. Paul Wilson, the senior food service noncommissioned officer in charge for the 287th Sust. Bde. "Now we are coming out to their dining location and checking on how they do things and to see if they are implementing some of the things they learned from us."
The team found the IA dining facility manager implemented new processes from their visit to COB Adder, Wilson, a resident of Satanta, Kan. said. The IA now has a cook's mount, which is a time for dining room managers to inspect the cooks before their shift begins for open wounds, cuts or illness that may cause cross contamination to the food, said Wilson.
"There are a lot of precautions we advised them to take like ensuring the cooks are clean and their uniforms are clean because they are handling food that everyone will be eating," Wilson said. "If someone is sick they can send them to medical before they start cooking and make others sick."
One of the major differences on how the facilities are run was seen during the tour of storage facilities, said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Frank M. Merryman, a food service technician, 287th Sust. Bde. He said the U.S. Army keeps 7-days of food on-hand while the IA only has food for the next day in stock because of limited electricity and cold storage availability.
Another difference is the IA has separate dining facilities for enlisted Soldiers and Officers. The food is prepared differently and officers are served at their tables while enlisted are served buffet style.
"There are a lot of things that are different than how we do it but that doesn't mean they're wrong, it's just different," Merryman, a resident of Rustburg, Va., said. "It was an honor to see how their process works."
The visit allowed the 287th Sust. Bde. food service Soldiers to share ideas on how to improve sanitary conditions.
Wilson said because their facilities are older and do not have sneeze guards to protect the food on the service line. He suggested putting plastic wrap in the front of the food divider to provide a barrier between the Soldiers and the food.
"It's a make-shift sneeze guard," Wilson said.
They have most of the rooms set up for proper care of the food but in one room they have automotive supplies which could cause cross contamination of food, Wilson said. Wilson also made the suggestion to move the stuff to a different building, which frees another room for food storage and keeps the food safer.
"They (IA) have made great steps in taking better care of the food, cleanliness of their facilities and providing better precautions so that their Soldiers don't get sick," Wilson said. "I have enjoyed the experience of working with the Iraqi Army and hope to visit again in the future."