FORT LEE, Va. — Describing it as “the next generation of military food service,” the Joint Culinary Center of Excellence here has rolled out an Army Food Truck Program with the idea of providing healthy meals to troops in training and field environments.
Over the next few weeks, JCCoE — an element of the U.S. Army Quartermaster School — will facilitate the testing and integration of the first mobile meal service vehicle, dubbed The Outpost. Lessons learned will be shared with food service personnel at Fort Stewart, Georgia, where two trucks will begin additional test operations in March.
The first truck’s arrival at Fort Lee was met with good reviews from the Soldiers tasked to test it. “It was challenging at first, getting used to the size of the truck and how everything works,” said Spc. Tyler Ary, a culinary food specialist. “I think we’ve worked out all the kinks and everything seems to be running smoothly.”
Also satisfied with the ongoing initial test run, Stephan Primeau, JCCoE food service system analyst and project coordinator, said this initiative “will take the Army food program into the 21st century.”
“It is part of a larger effort in the works to improve and enhance Army food service operations,” he explained. “We want to modernize with the industry. We looked at the way universities, different services, and leading food programs utilize mobile food service programs, so we thought, ‘why not try a similar system?'”
The logistical process of getting the program off the ground and physically moving forward has been in the works for some time, said Cornelius Williams, Installation Food Program manager, Fort Stewart. The pilot program will take about six months, after which the Army will determine if it will go service-wide.
When the food trucks arrive at Fort Stewart, they will operate in remote areas where Soldiers don’t have easy access to traditional dining facilities. Other possible locations include barracks, motor pools and flight lines.
The trucks will offer breakfast and lunch options that were suggested through previously conducted surveys. Some of the menu items could include bacon, egg and cheese bagels, and an Asian Specialty Bowl with a choice of grilled teriyaki beef or chicken served on top of fresh vegetables.
Master Sgt. Ronnie Rooks, senior culinary manager for the 3rd Sustainment Brigade at Fort Stewart, expressed excitement over the testing opportunity. “Once the trucks are here, we’ll need to do a two-week train up (for operations and set up) at the designated stops. That is going to be key,” he said.
“When the equipment is up and running, I think the soldiers will be really receptive of the new trucks; considering the menus we have are a lot healthier than some of the fast food restaurants out there. Our choices complement the Army Medical Command’s Performance Triad.”
The Performance Triad is a comprehensive plan to improve readiness and increase resilience through sleep, nutrition and exercise with public health initiatives and leadership engagement. The Triad is the foundation for Army transformation to a System for Health — a partnership among Soldiers, families, leaders, health teams and communities to promote readiness, resilience and responsibility.
Follow-up coverage of the Army Food Truck pilot program is planned for late March using comments and data from the Fort Stewart test run.