JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas – In today’s military environment, the Air Force isn’t just focused on aircraft being in top shape and powered by the right fuel to defend our nation.
The Air Force Services Activity, through its comprehensive healthy food initiative (HFI) continues zeroing in on the human weapons system – our nation’s Airmen – and providing them “with the right nutrition to increase lethality; ensuring a more ready force to meet mission requirements,” said Bill Spencer, chief of AFSVA’s Food and Beverage Division.
“Our customers continue to seek performance ‘fueling’ menu items,” Spencer said, “and through our HFI approach, we’re delivering that.”
Central to HFI is the continued implementation of the Go For Green (G4G) 2.0 program in dining facilities (DFAC) across the Air Force. Every Air Force DFAC uses the initial G4G program since it’s part of a Department of Defense joint service performance-nutrition initiative that began in 2012.
However, AFSVA, with the help of industry partners like the Culinary Institute of America, is upping its game to help Airmen better fuel for body and brain health by rolling out new recipes, and new coding and training standards to revitalize and revamp the Air Force’s program, said Tech. Sgt. Shantavis Hightower, an Air Force food and beverage manager with AFSVA.
Key to G4G 2.0 is a recent initiative where three CIA certified master chefs and a registered dietician conducted regional hands-on training and culinary demonstrations at six installations – Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado; Wright Patterson AFB, Ohio; Luke AFB, Arizona; Robins AFB, Georgia; Yokota Air Base, Japan; and Spangdahlem AB, Germany.
“Key personnel from surrounding bases attended the regional training,” Hightower added, “so they could then go back to their home stations to train others how to prepare and serve healthier, tastier food items.”
The comprehensive hands-on culinary training, conducted at centralized locations, used new products and cooking methods, Spencer said. Additionally, AFSVA rolled out 90 new recipes, created by the culinary institute, that include more whole, fresh foods and healthy fats, and less saturated fats.
“I love the new changes and knowing exactly what I put into my body,” said Airman 1st Class Cassandra St. Germaine, a customer service apprentice at Schriever AFB, Colorado. “With our jobs, it’s important to fuel our bodies with the right nutrition and that’s exactly what I can get (with Go For Green 2.0). I know all of the ingredients in my meal and can customize it the way I want.”
With G4G 2.0, Airmen can look forward to more roasted nuts, vegetables and sweet potatoes, and plant-based proteins like tofu and quinoa on menus.
For example, instead of rice pilaf, barley pilaf will be served. Instead of white pasta, Airmen will see a move toward whole grain and wheat pasta. In place of pasta salad, quinoa salad with beans will be available.
“Of course, our customers still want some of those comfort, often less healthy, foods,” Hightower said, “so they will still be able to enjoy those but we want to focus more on moderation when selecting those items.
“It’s making sure we have a balance on our menus and on the plates our customers build for themselves,” she added.
Part of selecting healthier food options is helping customers know how and where to find them.
With G4G, Airmen and their families can, at a glance, tell which menu items are better fuel for their bodies with simple stoplight signage.
“The stoplight method has been in place since 2012 and it’s easy to follow and really helps our customers make healthier food choices,” Spencer said. Additionally, choice architecture – product placement, lighting and merchandising – is also used to help customers.
The stoplight system is based on green, yellow and red color schemes.
Items coded as green mean they are good for your body and should be eaten often. Yellow is eat occasionally as they’re moderate-performance foods and red is eat rarely because they’re low-performance foods that are processed and low in nutrients.
Airmen can look for the G4G Eat Well, Perform Well signage in their DFACs now to identify and choose foods that enhance performance and overall well-being, Hightower said.
The AFSVA food and beverage team hopes to have all installations operating with G4G 2.0 by the end of this fiscal year.