FORT HOOD - Leadership from across Fort Hood and the Army's Culinary Center of Excellence, located at Fort Lee, Virginia, met with members of the 13th Expeditionary Sustainment Command and members of the Texas A&M University Agriculture and Life Science department on Aug. 27 to discuss the future of Army nutrition.
Dr. Patrick Stover, Vice Chancellor and Dean for Agriculture and Life Sciences, Texas A&M University, and Dr. Susan Ballabina, Deputy Vice Chancellor, traveled to Fort Hood, Texas by invitation from the 13th ESC Commander, Brig. Gen. Darren Werner, to initiate a relationship to enhance the nutritional readiness with in III Corps.
"We have a lot of interest right now in bringing out some of the latest technologies in terms of how nutrition can be used to optimize all sorts of outcomes: optimize long-term health, optimize disease prevention, optimize our recovery from injury, and once we are injured the role nutrition can play in the role of recovery," said Dr. Stover. "We are really interested in working with different groups, especially the military and how we can better understand how dietary exposures optimize performance outcomes, recovery outcomes, prevention outcomes."
Doctors Stover and Ballabina met with leadership from across III Corps and the 13th ESC, to include Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center, the 407th Army Field Support Brigade, Fort Hood's Logistics Readiness Center and the Joint Culinary Center of Excellence at Fort Lee, Virginia.
"My role was to coordinate the meeting and bringing all parties together," said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Wade Froehlich, Senior Food Service Advisor for the 13th ESC. "Not only the people from Texas A&M but also the 407th AFSB, III Corps and LRC Hood and bringing them all together and have a discussion about nutrition here at Fort Hood."
The initial meeting was more than just a familiarization between Dr. Stover and the military, it was a chance to communicate the nutrition goals and challenges of the food service team, beginning at Fort Lee.
"First of all we wanted to get to meet those who play a key role in serving our Soldiers here through the cafeterias and the various dieticians who play a role in making that linkage between Soldier health and the food that they're eating," Dr. Stover said. "We were absolutely delighted to learn about the important role that food services plays here and the dieticians play, and really impressed with the way that you are bringing the very best science to bear in these cafeterias and keeping our Soldiers healthy, it was just really impressive."
The Army implemented to "Go for Green" initiative several years ago to ensure diners had nutritionally adequate menu choices. "Go for Green" is a nutritional recognition labeling system providing the Soldier with a quick assessment of the nutritional value of menu offerings and food products in the dining facility.
"Impressive, it's impressive the way the military and the dieticians are labeling food to inform Soldiers so they can make the best possible choices, if they wish, in terms of what they are eating and their long-term health," said Dr. Stover. "Both the variety of food that they are offering as well as the way they are educating and informing the Soldiers is state of the art and really impressive."
For Dr. Stover, this was his first experience at a military dining facility, and his first chance to witness how a typical meal is prepared and served to America's warfighters.
"What also struck me is the interest not only among those involved in food service and those involved in the dietetics, but the leadership here and really wanting to know what is the latest science," said Dr. Stover. "The leadership here seems really interested in how can we ensure our Soldiers will go to war healthy and return healthy by optimizing the their physiology and doing some of that through diet so that they are more resilient so that if they do get injured they can recover more quickly and more completely."
Dr. Stover and his team at Texas A&M University bring years of experience and research in the field of nutrition and their proximity to Fort Hood looks to provide the potential for great collaboration between the two organizations.
"I think Texas A&M University is going to possibly bring dieticians to our unit to not only help them train but train our guys in nutrition and a better way of eating," said Froehlich. "In food service overall, between Texas A&M and the Joint Culinary Center, they're going to bring a better menu, a more nutritious menu to us and help Soldiers."
Napoleon Bonaparte once said that an army marches on its stomach so bringing together the latest in science and research and food service leaders can enhance the nutritional readiness of III Corps.
"We have the same goals, so I think there are a lot of opportunities to do things together here," said Dr. Stover. "What we can offer is to begin to think about what is the new science we need to improve the health of our Soldiers."