By Jeremy Buddemeier, U.S. Army Garrison Grafenwoehr Public AffairsJuly 7, 2011
VILSECK, Germany -- Outside the Stryker Inn here, June 22, it was just another Wednesday. Soldiers straggled up, chatting on their phones and checking Facebook as they waited for the doors to open.
Inside, it was a different story.
Food service specialists bustled trays to the serving line and adjusted menu placards. Stryker Inn manager David Goodman stood at the corner between the soft drinks and the serving line; his team was ready.
As the doors opened at 11:30 a.m. sharp, the line of about 100 patrons, mostly Soldiers, filed in. Most didn’t even know what hit them.
As part of the Go for Green customer awareness lunch, patrons were treated to a healthy surprise, where the overwhelming majority of choices were “green,” meaning high in protein and low in fat.
“You hear green, green, green, so I said, ‘let’s go all green,’” said Goodman. Ninety-five percent of Goodman’s Go for Green menu that day consisted of healthy items. “No one’s done it in Europe " not with this much green in one setting,” he said.
The menu included items such as steamed Alaskan King crab legs, Southwest shrimp linguine, Caribbean baked fish, spicy brown rice, glazed green beans, and a squash and carrot medley. Each dish was marked with a dark green placard, and some contained nutritional information.
“I’ll find out whether it’s acceptable for the Soldier,” Goodman said.
On the other side of the line, a sign in front of the short order section warned wayward patrons.
“Stop! You have entered the red light district!” it read, reminding diners that foods like french fries, chicken nuggets and onion rings are highest in calories, lowest in vitamins and minerals, and may hinder performance.
In addition, a new section with more appetizing green items like hot roast beef roll-ups, Jamaican jerk chicken sandwiches and beef fajita pitas competed for attention. This section was strategically placed just before the short order section.
Pvt. Ali Nagi, 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment, filled his plate with spicy brown rice and rosemary potatoes. He said he noticed something different " the new items next to the short order " but still made a bee-line for the french fries.
Pvt. Dionte Young, a cavalry scout with 2SCR, decided to give the beef fajita pitas a try. For many like Young, choosing what to pile on their plates was a gut reaction.
Ken Stark, director of the garrison’s directorate of logistics, admitted he doesn’t usually eat very green, but said he supports the effort.
“The proof in the pudding is all the fat people in America,” he said. “This is an effort to try to steer it back the other way. I’m all for it.”
The Army’s “green” movement began here in 2008 when dining facilities started labeling menu items as green, yellow and red, indicating high, moderate and low performance foods, respectively. Providing a majority of green items, like Goodman’s Go for Green menu, is the next step.
According to Ana Wallace, U.S. Army Garrison Grafenwoehr food program manager, both of these steps will eventually be aligned with the Soldier Fueling Initiative, which will change the culture of food in the Army’s dining facilities, and hopefully the way Soldiers think about food.
Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling, commanding general, U.S. Army Europe, began the initiative while he was the deputy commanding general at the U.S. Army’s Training and Doctrine Command. The goal is change the way the Army and its Soldiers view meals; rather than just feeding Soldiers, meals are designed to optimize performance, provide energy for endurance and also the essential nutrients to help the body recover after performing strenuous tasks.
Changes dining facility patrons can expect to see on the menu will include leaner meats and an abundance of fruits and vegetables, a severely limited selection of fried foods (many of which will be replaced with baked options), and limited sweets. Juices and milk will be fortified with vitamins and soda will be replaced with vitamin-enhanced flavored water.
According to Wallace, SFI pilot programs at Grafenwoehr’s Main Post Dining Facility, The Sgt. Maj. Lawrence T. Hickey Dining Facility at Camp Normandy, and the Warrior Sports Cafe in Hohenfels are tentatively scheduled to begin this fall.
Back at the Stryker Inn, an hour after the facility opened, the line had thinned out. Stark and Wallace grabbed their trays and surveyed the choices. Stark opted for the rosemary potatoes, turkey yakisoba and bread.
Wallace held out for the Southwest shrimp linguine. As the server scooped up the last bit of food from the tray Wallace smiled.
“Oh good, the last serving. That’s always the best,” she said.