Story by Jason Om
CAMP HUMPHREYS, South Korea – Five officials from the Gyeonggi-do Office of Education visited a dining facility on Camp Humphreys, Dec. 20.
The education office’s goal is to revamp their current school meal program and potentially adopt successful food-service processes done elsewhere, such as at a U.S. military dining facility that provides for thousands of Soldiers three times a day.
“We are researching how to better use space in our cafeterias and improve how students move through the meal service,” said Dae-jin Jung, a Gyeonggi-do middle school teacher. “The automated dish return rack and the use of standardized menus were impressive.”
With standardized menus across USAG Humphreys, Soldiers know what to expect at each dining facility, said Sang Jang, operations manager, Spartan Dining Facility. This simplifies the ordering process and offers some cost savings by purchasing in bulk, he added.
During the tour, the team talked with food service workers about techniques used to encourage healthy eating habits and smart food choices. Jang highlighted the labels for each food item, which are color coded to quickly identify foods patrons should choose often or occasionally.
“I explained the difference between the food production system operated by the military and the private sector,” said Jang, who previously worked for a global hotel chain. “I hope today’s visit helps to provide better food for young students.”
The education office was also surprised to learn that select food lines offer Soldiers an option between only two side dishes and one entrée, promoting selective eating and portion control, said Yon-he Gu, a school commissioner of the Gyeonggi-do Office of Education. Even something as simple as providing calories could encourage healthier eating, she added.
“We are honored to share our system with local schools,” said Sgt. 1st Class Cesar Sumauang, Spartan Dining Facility manager. “I hope it’s helpful to them.”
The vast food options and spacious atmosphere of the military dining facilities is considerably different than the Gyeonggi-do schools, said Gu. However, the office is considering the addition of salad bars and other options to make healthy eating more appetizing to students.
Once the Gyeonggi-do schools implement some of the changes they derived from their visit, the office plans to invite Jang, Sumaung and other U.S. experts to see how they can further improve, said Gu. Even small changes to the meal program can make a large difference for local students.
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