Fort Jackson took another step towards holistic health and fitness when the doors for Victory Fresh opened at the U.S. Army Drill Sergeant Academy, Oct. 30. Victory Fresh offers grab and go wraps and salads, as well as a build-your-own power bowl available to service members, Department of Defense civilians, and their guests.
The Victory Fresh initiative, created in conjunction with the Robert Irvine Foundation and others, is aimed at creating a way for people to have healthier meal options even when they don’t have the time to have a sit-down meal.
“This is really critical to what we are trying to do with the Victory Health and Holistic Fitness Program and having a place that we can have nutritious foods within Army standards,” said Col. Mark Huhtanen, deputy commanding officer for the Army Training Center and Fort Jackson.
It’s not just your average run-of-the-mill restaurant.
“What is unique about this is taking all the fresh ingredients and being able to serve it in a way that fits our drill sergeant’s schedule,” Huhtanen added.
Shane Cash said initiative leaders spoke with drill sergeants a year and half ago asking what they needed to improve their nutritional health.
“They said, ‘We need to come into an establishment like this because we are meal prepping all day on our days off because we don’t have the time during the week to go to the (dining facility),’ (due to their training schedule),” said Cash, who supervised the opening for the Robert Irvine Foundation. “So they were like, “we need to be able to go grab breakfast, and have something that’s fresh, nutritious so they can go out to the field and do their jobs.”
Just having nutritious food wouldn’t suffice.
Cash said one catch was that Soldiers “don’t just want nutritious food. It has to be good. It has to be appealing and appetizing.”
“How do you make someone come back like they go back to” a fast food chain. “We want you to come back to Victory Fresh to get that fresh wrap that’s more nutritious, does just as good or better than you can get in a fast food restaurant. But you can also come in and customize your meal if you want something special like that.”
Victory Fresh, located at the U.S. Army Drill Sergeant Academy Dining Facility, Bldg. 9572, is open Monday through Friday with grab ‘n go open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and build-your-own power bowl available from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. All meals include a beverage and dessert.
Victory Fresh, which was created in conjunction with the Logistical Readiness Center, South Carolina Commission for the Blind, will have more options available after its official grand opening in February.
“It fits our lifestyle here on Fort Jackson,” Huhtanen said. “As we know our drill sergeants are always on the go. We’ve got drill sergeant candidates here at the Drill Sergeant Academy … we are across the street from our officer training courses. And so it’s critical, I think, for us to have something like this if we’re really going to live health and holistic fitness.”