NATICK, Mass. -- The Research, Development and Engineering Command's Soldier Center's Combat Feeding Directorate, or CFD, hosted Food Science & Industry Day on Oct. 25.

During the event, approximately 77 attendees from industry and academia learned about CFD's work in vacuum microwave drying, food safety, performance nutrition, tube foods, nutrient analysis, cutting-edge packaging, efforts to reduce the warfighter's load, and muscle recovery studies -- to name just a few areas.

"Food Science and Industry Day provides our stakeholders in industry, academia, and other government agencies with an invaluable opportunity to engage with us on our home turf," said Jeremy Whitsitt, CFD's deputy director. "The tours, demos, and informal conversations that take place throughout the day go a long way in galvanizing critical relationships so that warfighters' lives can be impacted through the work we do."

CFD is committed to actively pursuing, adapting and cultivating leading-edge technologies to ensure military operators have the decisive edge in all aspects of combat feeding. To help lighten the warfighter's carrying load for extended, semi-independent close combat operations, the directorate is working on innovative ways to maximize the energy and nutrient density of ration components.

Additionally, CFD researchers are focused on providing capabilities to use nutritional interventions to optimize warfighter performance; protect food and water from contamination; increase understanding of the gut microbiome; apply creative manufacturing technologies to food delivery systems; and increase energy efficiency and decrease manpower associated with joint-service field feeding.

"The Food Science & Industry Day event gives Natick scientists the opportunity to follow up on their prior presentations of R&D work at the Research & Development Associates for Military Food and Packaging Systems meeting," said Dr. Tom Yang, a CFD senior food technologist. "It provides industry people, as well as Soldiers, the opportunity to have one-on-one, in-depth discussions about our R&D work in order to fully grasp the core of the novel technologies being explored by CFD scientists. Attendees were given a chance to actively see, touch, and even taste the prototype products that scientists have developed. Many Q&As between the attendees, who had industry and military field experience, and CFD scientists were valuable to both parties in regards to the technology improvement, transition, and scale-up production. It's a win-win situation and helped to establish potential collaborations between CFD and industry."

"Events like these provide a great opportunity for the CFD project officers to educate our partners about the science and technology involved in military field feeding," said Patty Cariveau, CFD's executive assistant.

Visitors also learned about other capabilities outside of the CFD, including clothing design, pattern and prototypes; aerial delivery; and expeditionary maneuver support. They also toured the Doriot Climatic Chambers and the Additive Manufacturing Testing Lab.

"The event is important for building relationships with industry because it brings folks to the table to talk about requirements, technological advancements, and best practices," said Alfredo Lujan, a Soldier Center clothing designer. "In order to get a great product, you have to get a variety of perspectives to refine the form of the object and the logistics to manufacture the item."

At the heart of the event was CFD's dedication to fostering productive collaborations to support its ongoing commitment to the warfighter.

"The field feeding community is a team," said Whitsitt. "Each member of the team has a role to play. The FS&I day is a great way to communicate and demonstrate the role that we play. Just like the Red Sox, this team is amazing!"

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The U.S. Army Soldier Center is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, which has the mission to provide innovative research, development and engineering to produce capabilities that provide decisive overmatch to the Army against the complexities of the current and future operating environments in support of the joint warfighter and the nation. RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command.