'Soldier-athletes' fuel up at food event: Vendors provide healthful choices
October 7, 2010
FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- Protein supplements don't just come in a shake or bar anymore. Today you can find it in an unlikely source - doughnuts.
There's no longer the need to feel guilty about indulging in some guilty pleasures. As those who attended Fort Jackson's Fifth Annual Food Expo Tuesday found out, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients can be found in some of America's favorite junk food.
About 2,000 community members gathered Tuesday at the NCO Club to sample foods from more than 40 vendors who service Fort Jackson's dining facilities.
Vendors introduced products such as whole grain and vitamin enriched brownies and muffins, whole wheat pizza, baked chicken breast, spinach curry, catfish stew and more foods designed with the "Soldier-athlete" in mind.
"The vendors provided various new products that are in line with the new nutritional initiative promoted by the Army," said John Nelums, performance assurance evaluator for the Directorate of Logistics Food Service Office, which co-hosted the event with the US Food Service, Lexington Division.
"The Army is getting strict about nutrition," Nelums said. "So this year's theme was 'Feeding the Soldier Athlete.'"
Beverly Sowell, food service specialist supervisor, said this year's expo focused on nutritional foods to help integrate the community to the Army's new menu standard that will be implemented for Initial Military Training Soldiers in the new fiscal year.
"The Army wants to treat and train Soldiers like athletes," Sowell said. "Soldiers will be trained to eat and drink properly so they are prepared for strenuous physical and mental activity during Basic Combat Training."
Petty Officer 2nd Class Hector Garcia, assigned to Task Force Marshall, said he was impressed with the Army's stance on increasing the nutritional value of its meals, which not only provide fuel for Soldiers, but also for members of his own unit who will soon deploy with Army units.
"It's exactly what they need to eat to maintain their stamina while deployed," Garcia said. "Not only will better nutrition fuel their bodies, but good food always boosts morale."
Petty Officer 1st Class Monica Wright, also assigned to Task Force Marshall, said this was her fourth year attending the food expo and that she appreciated the healthier options offered at this year's event.
"Good nutrition is not just an Army issue," Wright said. "All service members, regardless of branch, are concerned about their weight, passing a physical fitness test and staying within standards. So the preparation that goes into the food we eat is very important."
Sowell said she hoped those who attended the expo and learned more about eating nutritionally, would share their knowledge and encourage healthy eating habits among their coworkers, family and friends.
"Good nutrition is important for everyone because food gives our bodies the nutrients needed to stay healthy, grow, and work properly," she said. "Nothing is more important than healthy eating."
Beyond taste testing, attendees were given free food samples to take home, had the chance to win door prizes and giveaways, and were invited to an autograph session with
Ray Tanner, head coach of the University of South Carolina's baseball team, which is this year's national champions.