Army Teen Panel brings changes to Food Programs

–The Army Teen panel met at the annual worldwide youth conference in August. They discussed and chose the top three issues military teens face. One was the lack of food choices and programs.(Photo Credit: Ms. Susan Merkner (IMCOM))

FORT SAM HOUSTON (Jan 11, 2019)- In August when the annual worldwide Army Youth Leadership Forum was held in Southbridge, Massachusetts, Military youth narrowed down the top three concerns that they routinely face. One item was their food options and programs.

After Military teens made their decision about their concerns, the U.S. Army’s Child and Youth Services nutrition department went to work.

The CYS professionals, who work for the U.S. Army Family and Morale, Wellness and Recreation department, developed a plan to improve food options and implement nutrition and cooking classes.

Youth centers at garrisons now have three options for meals and snacks. The first option is the standard Child Development Center or School Age Center menu. The second option is a new separate snack menu tailored for teenagers, and the third option is an al a carte model that allows flexibility and choice.

All of the new food options meet the United States Department of Agriculture guidelines for the Child and Adult Care Food Program. The USDA program is based on scientific research and the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

In addition to the new options, cooking and shopping classes will be introduced in the youth centers. Teens will learn how to shop for healthy cooking options as well as how to prepare nutritious meals.

Also, The Army CYS cooks have all been trained to bring healthier meals to Army CYS facilities, participants, and children.

In April, CYS professionals will meet with the youth teen panel to discuss the changes being made. Teens will provide feedback and further suggestions if needed.

In June after suggestions are implemented and the programs are finalized, a CYS nutrition expert will go to the annual worldwide Army Youth Leadership Forum to brief the teen panel about how their concern was addressed.

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