The proof is in the pudding: food service specialists fuel the fight

Photo By Master Sgt. Matt Hecht | Staff Sgts. Richard Pretto, left, Jessica Reichner, and Kevin Wolfe, all food service specialists with the New Jersey Army National Guard, stand for a portrait in front of a Containerized Kitchen-Enhanced at The National Guard Training Center, Sea Girt, N.J., Aug. 24, 2018. The Soldiers were part of a three day Food Service Sustainment Course. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Matt Hecht)




Story by Master Sgt. Matt Hecht 

New Jersey National Guard 

Food service specialists, like the meals they prepare, require seasoning. Over twenty-five Soldiers from the New Jersey National Guard attended a Food Service Sustainment Course held at the National Guard Training Center in Sea Girt, New Jersey on Aug. 24.

Most of the training was focused on kitchen technology, but another theme was the science of food service and how it contributes to health and welfare for the troops.

“Throughout history, the most successful armies, leaders, and logisticians are the ones that understood the importance and relevance of food service operations,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Gabriel Zettel, the New Jersey National Guard’s Food Program Manager. “All the way to World War 2, a large portion of the force was lost to disease and non-combat related injuries. With advances in nutrition and sanitation, the losses from non-combat disease have plummeted.”

Engineers from Babington Technology, the company that designed the Army’s kitchen systems, provided hands-on training for the Soldiers.

“We’re here today doing technical support for the Army Guard and their Assault Kitchens,” said Ramiro Andrade, a product manager with Babington. “The Soldiers are learning basic maintenance and troubleshooting with the gear. It’s a great experience, anytime Babington is involved with one of these exercises, it gives us an opportunity to help make improvements for the end user.”

The Soldiers learned about the inner workings and safety features of various burner systems during presentations by the technical staff.

“We’re really thankful and grateful that they’re [Babington] here,” said Zettel. “By the time we’re done, the Soldiers should be operating their Assault Kitchens with competency and confidence.”

For some of the Army chefs, the experience goes beyond their love of food: they want to give Soldiers a fruitful visit.

“Me personally, if you see me on the line serving chow, I’m smiling and joking with the Soldiers,” said Pfc. Sabriya Spellman, from the 250th Brigade Support Battalion. “They’re out there doing their job, and you can make their day better. One smile goes a long way. You support them in so many ways. If we don’t support them, they can’t do their jobs.”

Pfc. Chelsea Nunez, a chef with the 117th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, added that the training allows them to more effectively fortify the warfighter.

“This training is going to help us cook more food, and perfect it,” said Nunez. “When they [Soldiers] come by to eat our food, they’re exhausted, but after they eat, they’re happy, and it’s a really good feeling to see that.”

“Without beans, there aren’t any bullets,” said Zettel. “The training they’re getting is super valuable because at any time we could find ourselves on a deployment. They’ll have the capability, the knowledge, and the confidence to shoot downrange on a hasty deployment at any time with these Assault Kitchens to support the force in country and provide those Soldiers on the front lines with the nutrition they need to sustain themselves.”

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