Army to increase minimalist food stations for soldiers as dining facilities continue to lose money

Fort Stewart, Georgia - Sgt. Maj. Ken Fauska, the Army food services sergeant major, looks at the wide selection of food available to 3rd Sustainment Brigade Soldiers at Fort Stewart, Georgia, April 13. The kiosk, located in the brigade area, serves as an alternative to the DFAC and allows Soldiers to use their meal card to grab healthy nutritious food and snacks. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Corey Baltos, U.S. Army Sustainment Command)

By Michael Swaney

As single troops continue to avoid attending dining facility meal services across Army installations, the Army is looking to invest more in food kiosks that offer simple meals.

The first reported kiosk was at Fort Stewart and was in the form of a food truck that was operated by soldiers and became operational in February 2019.

“The food truck travels to multiple locations providing breakfast and lunch to Soldiers during their break hours. Serving the barracks areas, in processing center, and motor pools, food trucks are part of a larger modern feeding and campaign to improve the Garrison feeding operations,” Pfc. Devron Bost reported at the time.

Bost reported the goal was “to provide Soldiers with convenient and healthy meal options” but whether these food kiosk meals are healthy is what is being questioned now.

Healthy Food Options

The Army has opened 14 food kiosks so far and plans to open 13 more within the next year. Doubling the amount of these minimal-option food kiosks has some worried about the variety of health options and small portions.

In 2021, Sgt. 1st Class Corinna Baltos cited numerous reasons why soldiers avoid the dining facilities.

“They are increasingly far away from where Soldiers live and work, they have extended or irregular work schedules that are not conducive to DFAC hours, and there is usually a wide variety of dining choices right outside the gate,” she wrote.

The Army’s plan to combat soldiers paying out of pocket for meals -mostly fast food including Burger King and Popeyes- was to bring the healthy meals to them or put them at the grab-and-go kiosks.

But some say this plan has fallen short.

“Many options are heavily processed, and soldiers have raised complaints of small portion sizes — the salad entree, for example, is under 300 calories,” reports.

A Culinary Outpost Kiosk at Fort Hood that only took cash payments in 2020. Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Kelvin Ringold

Soldiers have made numerous complaints about Army DFAC food, such as being served raw chicken, lack of variety, and small portions.

Losing Money

The declining use of dining facilities makes it hard for Army planners to continue investing in the facilities as they require up to 50 staff to operate.

“A lot of Soldiers are choosing not to eat at the DFAC,” said Col. Steve Erickson, commander, 3rd Sustainment Brigade, said in 2021. “This is a problem because the Army is losing money, and Soldiers are paying out of pocket for food.”

“We are seeing that there are certain times, such as weekend mornings and Friday nights, where Soldiers are not going to the DFAC,” said Erickson.

He suggested an idea the Air Force tested and turned out to be extremely successful at bringing up airmen’s attendance at dining facilities.

“If we offered college-style meal plans – where the Soldier is provided with say, 10 or 14 meals throughout the week and then given a reduced basic allowance for subsistence for the rest of the meals ¬– that would save both the Army and the Soldier money,” he said. “The business model has to take over at some point.”

In 2012, the Army reviewed the Air Force’s Food Transformation Initiative and found it resulted in a 67 percent increase in junior Airmen going to the DFAC.

Despite the findings, the Army planners still intend to double down on the food kiosks.

A review of the current menu options found that soldiers would have to overload on sugar to meet the Army’s suggested protein intake for male soldiers each day.

To meet the suggested protein intake recommendation, it would “likely require the soldier to drink a Nesquik milk each meal that offers 15 grams of protein — but also 18 grams of sugar — and a tuna pack with 4 grams of sugar,” reports.

Even if the Army adds healthier options, it is really up to the junior soldiers to show more demand for them to have them stay on the menu.

Considering many soldiers requested beer and cigarettes to be sold at the kiosks, it doesn’t seem too likely.

© 2024 Bright Mountain Media, Inc. All rights reserved.

The content of this webpage may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written consent of Bright Mountain Media, Inc. which may be contacted at, ticker BMTM.


Post navigation