DFACS to change menu fare, move to healthful items
January 20, 2011
FORT HUACHUCA, Ariz. -- When Soldiers enter Yardley, Virginia Hall and the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Training Battalion Dining Facilities on Feb. 1, they will notice a big change in the menus.
Gone will be fried entrees, burgers, sodas and cake, pie and cookies and other high-calorie, low nutrition items.
Instead, Soldiers in the dining facilities that service the initial entry and advanced training battalions will find high-nutrition menus that offer more bang for their caloric bucks. In the food line, items will be individually color coded so Soldiers will instantly know when they are making wise food selection choices, a process that is part of the Army's "Go for Green" nutrition labeling program. Carbonated beverages and drinks with sugar additives will also disappear.
According to Kendall Brown, Installation food program manager, the change will take place Army-wide throughout Training and Doctrine Command at dining facilities that provide initial and advanced Soldier training. It will not affect dining facilities that provide meals to permanent party Soldiers such as the Thunderbird Dining Facility which services 11th Signal Brigade Soldiers. The change, which will go hand-in-hand with new Army physical requirements, is designed to produce a more physically and mentally fit Soldier. The Army is the first military branch of service to make this drastic change, but there is the potential for other services to follow suit. Eleven other Army installations that provide basic and advanced training will join Fort Huachuca. The new program is called the Initial Military Training Soldier Fueling Initiative.
"The change is being made under Army guidance [first issued Dec. 1, 2010] to ensure we are providing the best nutritional meals to Soldiers," Brown stated. "This is a big change, bigger than when we went to the automated [food service] system," he explained.
There will still be a short order serving station and a main entrAfAe area, but fried foods will be gone. So will the deep-fat fryers.
"Hamburgers will be served only once every seven days. Hotdogs will no longer be served," he said, adding they will still offer French fries, only they will be baked instead of fried.
In place of the other items found on the short order line, Soldiers will find whole wheat bread and deli-style sandwich offerings such as turkey and lean ham and roast beef.
Main entrAfAe items will be baked, grilled or roasted. Fried chicken, fish, country-fried steak and other such entries will no longer be an option. The DFACs will offer only 10 percent beef products and 90 percent lean meat or fish entrees other than beef. Occasionally, Soldiers may be offered pre-fried food that can be baked, purchased already prepared from food vendors.
Some food selections will be modified to be more nutritionally beneficial to DFAC patrons. Examples are not using butter in preparation of hominy grits, serving whole grain French toast, and offering whole grain waffles in place of those currently served.
Dessert items such as cake, cookies or pie will be offered during holiday meals or end-of-training-cycle meals only.
At the hydration stations, offerings will include items such as one percent fat white milk and low fat chocolate milk fortified with vitamins A and D, unsweetened tea, low sodium vegetable juice, 100 percent pure apple and orange juice and sugar free power aid beverages, some of which have been taste-tested and approved by local Soldiers. Carbonated beverage machines will be removed.
Brown admits the changes are both challenging and time consuming for the DFAC staff and have required tedious, long hours.
"We've had to completely revamp about 80 percent of our 28-day cycle menu," he said, adding that meal serving stations will contain the same number of entries and side orders as currently offered. "We are also working with new vendors to identify and test products that offer good nutritional value and are in the process of creating new recipes that meet nutritional guidelines."
Brown said his organization has been advertising the change through various venues which include posting information in the DFACs and at the units as well as over television and radio. He says Soldiers he's talked to seem to like the coming change.
"There will be a few holdouts, but overall, today's younger Soldiers, those 17 through 22, are more into being fit, so most of the young Soldiers [the primary target age group using the DFACs undergoing the new menu change] will buy into the program," Brown said.
"I'm excited about implementing the program. I look forward to creating new menu items and identifying new products," he stated.
Although it could cost the Army more to implement the changes due to potentially higher costs for pre-packaged foods, there will be no cost increases for Soldiers who pay to use the dining facilities.