Bringing the dining facility to the soldier in training: How they do it in Korea
The Performance Triad--with its emphasis on adequate sleep, increased activity, and proper nutrition--is the right tool to enhance personal performance of Soldiers. But what do Soldiers do to stay properly fueled when training takes them away from the dining facility, and they have to grab food on the run?
In Korea, the Eighth Army has decided to take the dining facility to the Soldier, and they've done it with something that is found on the street corners across America--the food truck. Mobile "grab-and-go" trucks bring food grab bags directly to the Soldiers so they can refuel immediately after physical readiness training without time-consuming treks to the dining facility.
Capt. Rachel Morgans, a dietician with the 65th Medical Brigade, created the refueling menus that support the grab-and-go concept and provide the right amount of protein and carbohydrates for optimal Soldier-Athlete refueling.
The refueling menus include lean protein, heart healthy fats, simple and complex carbohydrates from whole grains, antioxidant-rich fruit, and low-fat dairy. All menus contain electrolytes for rehydration and protein to promote muscle growth. Carbohydrate content varies--high carbohydrate menus support heavy training, and lower carbohydrate menus support medium and light training.
Sgt. 1st Class Jessica C Bezanson, food service NCO with the Eighth Army, designed the grab-and-go truck. She is also designing two additional food trucks that will be used in various locations on Yongsan to provide healthy refueling options to the Soldiers. The trucks improve customer service, decrease the number of diners at the DFAC, and deliver nutritious meals and convenience to Soldiers.
The grab-and-go trucks are optimal for units where there is only one dining facility or the distance from the physical readiness training is greater than one mile. For example, on Yongsan, there is one central dining facility; a satellite dining site is located on Camp Coiner allowing Soldiers to refuel immediately after physical readiness training.
Morgans and Bezanson have gone beyond providing healthy food and are teaching comprehensive Performance Triad and performance nutrition classes to food service personnel. Morgans is teaching similar classes tailored to dining facility managers and master fitness trainers, and Soldiers and unit leaders across Korea.
The classes include nutrition 101, U.S. Dietary Guidelines, and performance nutrition education that teach Soldiers why healthy foods are used in each grab-and-go menu. The classes are linked together, including information on sleep, so Soldiers learn how the Performance Triad leads to optimal performance.
In addition to the grab-and-go trucks, dining facility managers for the Eighth Army have added healthy foods and dropped some less nutritious choices from their menus in support of the Performance Triad. Recent additions include whole-wheat pasta, low-fat yogurt, low-sodium and lower fat breakfast meats, seaweed wraps for kimbap, and whole-wheat tortilla wraps. Dropped from the menu were foods containing trans-fat shortening, breads with less than 2.5 grams of fiber per serving, and juice blends (replaced with 100% juice).
The 65th Medical Brigade recently held its first annual Soldier-Athlete Warrior fueling competition between the dining facilities. The dining facilities were judged for green labeling, displays of nutrition education material, standard operating procedures, recipe cards, and production schedules that show the dining facilities are using the nutrition standards mandated by the Joint Subsistence DoD Menu standards. The competition encouraged Soldiers to use their culinary skills to create healthy menus that incorporate performance-enhancing foods.
The efforts of Morgans and Bezanson are part of the well-planned initiative to enhance the overall performance and the wellbeing of the Army's Soldier-Athletes. Helping to keep Soldiers focused on the value of good nutrition and the other components of the Performance Triad will support a healthy and resilient fighting force.