FORT RILEY, KS, UNITED STATES
Story by Will Ravenstein
1st Infantry Division
With a snip of the ceremonial scissors, Fort Riley’s Culinary Outpost Kiosk opened for Soldiers and Fort Riley civilians to have a healthier, faster dining option May 21.
The Outpost, at Building 251 on Historic Main Post, is open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. featuring prepackaged healthy dining options from sandwiches to salads, milk to smoothies and some quick snack items.
The facility is staffed by Soldiers and is targeted toward meal cardholders, though items can be purchased with cash — a credit card system will be installed in a few months.
The Culinary Outpost will be run like a dining facility, except for one noticeable change.
“It’s different mainly because it’s a la carte,” said Staff Sgt. Jenette Hall, Big Red One Culinary Team manager and the Culinary Outpost manager. “You are going to pay for what you actually take, consume for one. Then secondly, the items that we offer are per the request of the consumer. That is to include [Department of Defense] civilians.
“We are not wasting money buying things Soldiers do want or they don’t want to see,” she said. “We just want to make sure we remain relevant to the Fort Riley community in its entirety. The dining facility is starting to change and we just want to keep up with the competition.”
The designers of the Culinary Outpost Kiosk have built similar facilities in Fort Benning, Georgia, and Fort Carson, Colorado.
IT’S ALL ABOUT LOCATION
The location was chosen for two reasons, Col. Curtis Taylor, 1st Infantry Division and Fort Riley chief of staff said during the ceremony.
“This matters to Soldiers because of the location, we’ve got the [military police] battalion down here, we’ve got replacement folks — about 120 Soldiers is their average population,” he said. “Then we have a very large [Department of the Army] civilian population here as well.”
Taylor mention the Culinary Arts Lab will still be housed in the location to show that high quality of care in food preparation and attention to the Soldiers of installation matter.
“So, for the 16 of you that are going to be assigned down here, I hope that gives you purpose and meaning for what you are doing,” Taylor said. “It matters. And I truly appreciate you being here.”
Taylor said there is a fundamental shift in how the Army trains and cares for Soldiers. With training geared toward total body fitness with the transition to the Army Combat Fitness Test, it is more important for Soldiers, who represent the slimmest portion of the 30 percent of Americans eligible to join the military, to care for themselves.
“By the time that they get to their unit, they represent a very significant investment by the U.S. Army, U.S. government into their capability,” Taylor said. “So, the realization — that’s been going on in the Army — is that we need to treat our young Soldiers much like the NFL treats its athletes. Much like our tier one forces train their Soldiers as well. That starts with what we put in their bodies.”
Hall said the readiness aspect was important to her and her staff, especially the morale aspect of having a closer dining facility for a large number of Soldiers and civilians.
“First and foremost, having this here goes towards morale,” she said. “The next closest dining facility is at the top of the hill, which is quite a ways. So, our main objective here is to focus on readiness and morale.
“Secondly, because the requirements for the Army as far as being a combat service member is changing,” she said. “There’s a lot more physical aspects to it that you have to be able to meet those demands. We fuel the Soldier, the warfighters. It’s important what you put into your body, so that you can perform to standard, to be beneficial to the mission and overall Army position.”
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