FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- The days of relying solely on Meals Ready to Eat or MREs during deployments or field exercises may be coming to an end with the activation of field feeding companies designed to provide better nutritional options for the warfighter.

The 593rd Quartermaster Company, which recently became part of the 548th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 10th Sustainment Brigade, is among the first field feeding companies or FFCs, to execute its mission, under the U.S Army Quartermaster Corps Force Design Update.

The field feeding company's organizational mission is two-fold.

When required, the unit can provide expeditionary food service support during field training exercises, contingency operations or forward deployed locations while simultaneously operating installation dining facilities or DFACs, in the garrison environment.

This mission is accomplished through the consolidation of culinary specialists and field feeding equipment into platoons and teams with a traditional company headquarters structure to maintain command and control for all unit personnel.

"At full strength, the FFC can support a maximum capacity of 5600 if forward deployed," said Cpt. Austin P. Twombly, the 593rd commander. "Each field feeding team or FFT is comprised of 15 Soldiers and is capable of feeding 700 personnel," added Twombly.

The 593rd's Soldiers have been busy since the unit's provisional activation ceremony on Nov. 16, 2018, and the flexibility afforded by the unit's modular manning structure enabled them to hit the ground running.

The first challenge was the time-consuming task of preparing the annual Thanksgiving meal at the 10th Sustainment Brigade dining facility, which is traditionally the day with the highest headcount of the year.

The second challenge was to conduct troop leading procedures and preventive maintenance checks and services for Soldiers and equipment designated to participate in Mountain Peak 19-01, a large-scale training exercise involving multiple 10th Mountain Division (LI) units on Fort Drum, New York.

"We told the DFAC we would take one team out to the field, with one team serving as DFAC back up support and each facility receiving two teams' worth of personnel for sustained feeding operations," said Twombly.

After setting up in the field, the 593rd reached full operational capability as their primary feeding area, consisting of 8 food service Soldiers and a Containerized Kitchen or CK, routinely supported a headcount of 300 to 400 personnel for breakfast and dinner each day.

According to 1st Sgt. Angela J. Fernandez, the 593rd company first sergeant, the experience during Mountain Peak has been beneficial for the unit's readiness and ability to conduct similar missions in the future.

"Some of the seasoned Soldiers understand the concept of the rotation," said Fernandez, referring to the 593rd's dual responsibility for supporting DFACs as well as field feeding requirements.

"Some of the junior Soldiers find it to be an adventure because it's something they haven't done before," added Fernandez. "They're out there learning every day, asking questions to adjust to the fight," said Fernandez. "It's a change of pace, they have to learn the different techniques of what it takes to make field standards versus dining facility standards," said Fernandez.

"Cooking in the field is more challenging because you have to deal with different obstacles, like the weather, said Pvt. Bryan Placencia, a food service specialist in the 593rd.

Despite the challenges, the 593rd's Soldiers efforts have been well received by those in the field.

"I've had three commanders come up and tell me that they enjoyed our food, especially the steak," added Placencia.

As with any new company's activation, the acquisition of and serviceability of property is a significant factor in the unit's ability to accomplish its mission.

The 593rd's field feeding equipment, consisting of Containerized Kitchen units and Mobile Kitchen Trailers or MKTs, were reorganized internally from donor units to the 10th Sustainment Brigade and supporting Mountain Peak provided an excellent opportunity for the unit's Soldiers to become proficient with the equipment.

"It is a learning curve because this is the first time we're taking the equipment out the field to run it through its full paces," said Fernandez.

When the unit is officially activated, Echelon Above Brigade or EAB units will be able to request the 593rd's support.

"Units will submit requests through the 10th Sustainment Brigade Support Operations Field Services section with at least 60 days notice, said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Zachary R. Glathar, the brigade's command food service technician.

"The field feeding team leaders will order all the Class 1 items (food, rations, and water) and work with the requesting unit to ensure training events are met and Soldiers are sustained," added Glathar.

With the experience gained from Mountain Peak and lessons learned captured to refine future missions, the 593rd Quartermaster Company is poised to provide an essential and unique capability for units requesting field feeding support.