By ANGIE THORNE
Guardian staff writer
FORT POLK, La. — Good food is essential to keeping the body running at peak capacity, as well as potentially providing emotional comfort when times get tough and a social outlet where you can commiserate with friends while sharing a meal. The perfect location for all of this to happen, if you are a Soldier, is in a dining facility like Fort Polk’s Patriot Inn.
The newly renovated DFAC celebrated its grand reopening May 13. The refurbishment’s focus was to provide a great atmosphere, as well as healthier choices following the Go for Green Initiative — a joint service performance nutrition initiative that improves a food environment where service members live and work. The program provides better food and beverage selections with the aim to optimize performance, readiness and health. It also incorporates best practices in health promotion and the latest nutrition science to more effectively impact the nutritional status of service members based on the impact food can have on performance.
Command Sgt. Maj. Kenneth Franco, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division command sergeant major, was the guest speaker at the grand opening.
Franco said it is a joy to showcase the Patriot Inn dining facility that will serve not only the Soldiers of the 3rd BCT, 10th Mtn Div, but also the Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk.
“Chows or mess halls have been part of our Army since its humble beginnings. Many Soldiers can recall fond memories after a hard session of physical training or coming together on the weekend with fellow Soldiers for a good Army breakfast or bowl of Army chili mac,” he said. “With the reopening of this dining facility, we will continue to carry that legacy forward, but also look into the future while adapting to more relevant feeding trends that maximize the utilization rate of this chow hall.”
Sgt. 1st Class Antonio Barrett, Patriot Inn manager, said the DFAC’s remodel has given it a new atmosphere.
“You eat with your eyes as well as your stomach. The facility’s new look offers diners a modern and sleek design that I think Soldiers will enjoy,” he said.
The new, top of the line equipment is also an impressive addition, said Barrett.
“We can do more with what we have now as far as meal preparation and offering Soldiers a wide variety of food options in a timely manner,” he said.
Spc. Cameron Marshall, 3rd BCT, 10th Mtn Div, said he was excited to see the dining facility open again.
“I’m sure the upgrades will improve our lives because good food is important to the success and happiness of Soldiers,” he said.
Spc. Samuel Caplin, 3rd BCT, 10th Mtn Div, said having just one DFAC while Patriot Inn was closed was difficult, especially since Soldiers have a limited time frame to eat.
“Having the Patriot Inn open again will be much more convenient. It will help get us in and out faster while enjoying a renovated facility,” he said.
Franco said because of this facility, leadership can have peace of mind that Soldiers are receiving proper sustenance with three square and balanced meals a day, allowing them to keep more money in their pocket.
“Most importantly, Patriot Inn will be providing nutritious meals to our Soldiers that will improve the performance of the formation. Just like the family that eats together, our Patriots and their leaders joining to break bread will strengthen the cohesion of our companies, troops, batteries, platoons and squads,” said Franco.