ARLINGTON, Va. – Updated meal offerings, more accessible dining locations and modernized payment methods are among the slew of changes being introduced or coming soon to installation dining facilities.
They are among readiness and modernization priorities codified in July 2019 when the Army G-4 revised Army Regulation 30-22, the Army Food Program. While the language contained in the regulation may be technical to some, the overall objective is clear:
“Provide the policies necessary to ensure Soldiers are offered safe, nutritionally balanced, sufficiently varied and appealing meals that are time-phased appropriately in environments that range from fixed installation dining facilities (DFACs) to extended delivery options and contingency operations.”
Since the AR was published, Army G-4 leadership has been working closely with the service’s senior leaders, subordinate commands and culinary professionals to translate the words in the regulation to real-world initiatives and changes that meet the overall objective.
There are several major lines of effort that are underlying the Army Food Modernization Program. They are outlined as follows:
· Nutritional Performance Initiatives
o Provide better products, increase and improve menu selections, embrace new recipes
o Adjust the Basic Daily Allowance for Food
o Implement Go for Green-Army nutritional standards
· Modernize Feeding Options
o Provide Mobile Culinary Outposts (food trucks) and kiosks
o Extend dinning hours
o Establish campus-style dining
· Enhance DFACs
o Develop an Army Food Service App to provide daily menus
o Increase hours of operation
o Update décor and provide Wi-Fi
· Automation Modernization
o Automate CAC access and transform the meal card program
o Enable credit/debit card payments at DFACs
“At the end of the day, we are working to provide Soldiers with better, more nutritious eating options,” said Lt. Gen. Duane Gamble, Deputy Chief of Staff, G-4. “But a major piece of the puzzle when it comes to getting them into the DFACs is not only the quality of the food but the environment they are eating in. If we can get to a point where DFACs are seen as places to eat, socialize and bond as a unit, I think we’ll have successfully modernized the Army culinary program.”
The Army is committed to fielding a modernized culinary service program that meets Soldiers’ needs and desires. As a result, a number of the food modernization initiatives are being extensively tested through pilot programs to ensure that when they are fielded, they’ll meet the underlying objective.
One such test are food trucks, or Culinary Outposts, that are currently operating at about a dozen installations. The intent is to provide Soldiers with options that are closer to where they operate on a daily basis. Culinary Outposts are equipped to provide meals for up to 200 Soldiers per feeding, utilizing standardized menus for quick preparation of nutritional items.
Modernizing the Army’s culinary services enterprise is an essential initiative that will take time, testing, feedback and implementation, as there are numerous moving components that are instrumental to feeding Soldiers. To make menu changes, one must first ensure ingredients are sourced, stocked and distributed and culinary specialists are trained to prepare new recipes.
The Army is committed to improving readiness and modernizing the force, and the Army Food Modernization program is tied to both of those priorities. Since 2019, the Army G-4 and the Joint Culinary Center of Excellence at Fort Lee, Va., have been working to develop new feeding concepts and to resource them appropriately. In the months to come, more information will be available as additional initiatives are tested and fielded.
The Army G-4 develops, implements and oversees logistics policy, plans and programming to enable the Army to maintain the highest possible level of logistics readiness for over 450,000 active duty, 330,000 National Guard and 280,000 Army Reserve component Soldiers stationed around the world. For more information, visit www.army.mil/g-4. Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.