By Bob Reinert/USAG Natick Public AffairsAugust 10, 2015
NATICK, Mass. (Aug. 10, 2015) -- The Combat Rations Database unveiled earlier this year is already receiving updates designed to make the website more useful to warfighters, military dietitians, food service officers and leaders.
The database -- ComRaD, for short -- debuted in March with accurate nutritional information about combat rations. It was the result of a collaborative effort between Department of Defense's Human Performance Resource Center, the Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center, or NSRDEC, and the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine at Natick Soldier Systems Center. The database contains information about the Meal, Ready-to-Eat; First Strike Ration; Meal, Cold Weather; and Food Packet, Long Range Patrol.
Later this month, a cart feature will be added to the site that will allow users to track what they have eaten by adding and removing ration components in order to view their overall daily nutritional intake. In September, information on group rations will follow.
ComRaD provides public access to accurate information at a time of increasing emphasis on performance nutrition in the military. Military dietitians want warfighters to better understand how to fuel themselves before, during and after missions.
"It will be interesting to see how the individual warfighter actually uses it," said Julie Smith, senior food technologist with the Department of Defense Combat Feeding Directorate at NSRDEC. "We haven't received that feedback yet."
Early analytics from the website (http://hprc-online.org/comrad/) showed that it was receiving heavy use, however. From Jan. 1 to April 30, ComRaD had 10,051 page views. Visitors had spent an average of 2 minutes, 28 seconds on the site.
"For now, I think we've delivered what the customer wants," said Smith, "and I'm excited to be a part of the website development and launch."
Smith pointed out that adding group rations to the database was a bit more complicated than it was with the individual rations.
"Because we do have to change some of the features," Smith said. "The way that the (group ration) menus are planned are for added variety. In group rations, there's a lot of split menus that enable an individual to choose one entrée or choose the other entrée.
"It's actually more difficult for warfighters to learn about group rations, because the nutrition facts label is not in front of them when they eat it. They don't have easy access to nutrition information."
As ration menus change in the future, items will be added or dropped from ComRaD.
"I think as people use it, I'll be excited to get feedback," Smith said. "I think that will really drive if additional work needs to be done.
"But we know as time goes on, there might be new features that people would want."
For more information about ComRaD, email firstname.lastname@example.org.