By Ms. Elyssa Vondra (Jackson)May 2, 2019
When the rumbles of hunger begin to set in at lunchtime, some Fort Jackson residents and employees leave the installation for a healthy meal, not realizing there are options at on-post restaurants.
Victory Hall, formerly the Officer's Club, is perhaps the newest among them. It features a menu of customizable, optionally healthy dishes.
Victory Hall's Armed Forces Cafe is a "completely new concept," said Alicia Davidson, the business manager of Victory Hall with the Directorate of Family, Morale, Recreation and Welfare who came up with the approach. None of the current offerings were available through the Officer's Club.
"People are trying to lose weight. People are trying to get healthy," Davidson said. "We're just trying to give everybody the option to choose a healthier lifestyle … if you choose to be healthier, you can do it on Fort Jackson. You don't have to go outside the gate."
FMWR aimed to give patrons the opportunity to grab a quick, healthy lunch without having to battle off-post traffic by "giving (customers) more variety inside (the installation) that they can't get anywhere else ... on Fort Jackson," Davidson said.
The menu offers selections both for those craving comfort food and for others seeking a lighter meal. Davidson says she has seen a roughly 50/50 split.
Most of the plates are customizable, Davidson added. "You can make it as healthy as you want or as unhealthy as you want."
Choices range from personalized salads, to pastas, broth bowls and rice bowls.
Each comes with up to five vegetables and a choice of protein, cheese and an extra topping.
Also available are a number of smoothies, from butternut squash to chocolate banana.
Wings and burgers are up for grabs for diners seeking a more luxurious meal, but even those are fitted with some unnoticeable, health-conscious swaps, Davidson said. For instance, the burgers are lean and the buns are made from ingredients like wheat and greek yogurt.
"A lot of people are into the healthy stuff," and the personalized bowls are especially popular, said Dianna Bryant, an Armed Forces Cafe waitress. "It makes it more creative for (customers) to get what they like and not just be forced to get something already mixed."
The only issue has been getting a crowd in since the reopening of the facility, Davidson said.
"I don't think a lot of people really know that we're here," she added. "I think a lot of people are still thinking that we are the Officer's Club … they still haven't put two and two together."
Victory Hall's Armed Forces Cafe, located at 3630 Semmes Road, serves lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, offering beverages until 4 p.m.