U.S. Army’s food truck program expands to Germany

Photo By Nancy Benecki | The first Army Outpost food truck headed overseas was celebrated with a grand opening on May 29, 2020 at the U.S. Army Garrison Baumholder for the 21st Theater Sustainment Command. The Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support’s Subsistence supply chain acquired the food truck, which can serve up to 300 soldiers per meal for breakfast and lunch each day. Trucks are equipped with appliances like panini presses, air fryers and microwaves. (Photo courtesy of Brian Burkholder/DLA).



Story by Nancy Benecki 

Defense Logistics Agency 

U.S. Army soldiers stationed in Germany are saying, “Guten Tag,” or “Hello,” to a brand new food truck.

The latest Army Culinary Outpost food truck is the first one shipped overseas, according to Dean Schoendorfer, integrated support team chief within the Subsistence supply chain’s Food Equipment branch at Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support.

A grand opening for the truck was scheduled for May 29 at the truck’s new home, the U.S. Army Garrison Baumholder for the 21st Theater Sustainment Command. A “soft opening” was held earlier this month, which was hosted by the 55th Quartermaster Company, 16th Special Troops Battalion.

Getting the food truck from the east coast of the United States to its destination in Germany required a lot of coordination between DLA Troop Support, DLA Distribution Transportation Planning Management, the Army’s Joint Center of Culinary Excellence, U.S. Transportation Command, and the manufacturer, Schoendorfer said.

The food truck was picked up from the manufacturer in New Jersey on Feb. 14, where it was taken to Baltimore and put on a commercial roll on/roll off ship to Germany designed to carry wheeled cargo that can be driven on and off the ship on their own wheels, Schoendorfer said.

“We worked a lot with DLA Distribution,” Schoendorfer said. “They were a huge help, because this is the first time [Subsistence] ever shipped a vehicle overseas.”

The customer requested the food truck in September 2019, and the contract was awarded in November to the same company DLA Troop Support previously purchased six newly-designed food trucks for the Army, Schoendorfer said.

“The manufacturer knew the urgency of the [deadline for the] truck,” Schoendorfer said. “We expressed in the solicitation that we needed this truck delivered at a certain time. So after it was awarded, the vendor started running [production on] a couple of trucks at the same time in the facility.”

DLA Troop Support reached out to DLA Distribution at the end of 2019 to coordinate shipping the food truck to Germany, said William Britton, a transportation assistant with DLA Distribution.

The relationship between DLA Troop Support and DLA Distribution allowed all involved parties to have a continuous open dialogue for plans, updates and changes, Britton said.

“We were able to keep everybody updated in a timely manner, and if there were any changes, we could make those immediately and address any issues,” Britton said. “That’s how we can get this truck to where it’s needed to be. And that’s our goal, to make sure all parties are coordinated so we can get all the material to where it needs to be on time, all the time.”

Schoendorfer called DLA Distribution’s support “outstanding” in getting the food truck to Germany in time for the customer’s deadline.

“They ensured that the vehicle got loaded on to meet the required delivery date, which was March 15, so they tracked our shipment very closely to make sure that it did get loaded on the vessel to meet the time,” Schoendorfer said.

DLA Distribution moves everything from road graders to Humvees on a regular basis, so this project was routine for Britton and his team, he said.

“We move what the troops need, when they need it, and get it there so there are no hardships on their end, because the warfighter always comes first,” Britton said. “That’s what made it so easy to work with everybody involved in this project. Whether it’s the carrier or Troop Support, we’re all working for that same goal, and that’s the most important aspect. That’s what makes it so easy to work on these kinds of projects, because we’re all focused on the mission.”

While the six food trucks made for the U.S. have a red, white and blue design with the Army star, the truck shipped to Germany has a black and gold design on the exterior with magnetic Army branding that can be removed when transporting the truck, Schoendorfer said.

The Army’s fleet of food trucks can serve 200 to 300 soldiers per meal for breakfast and lunch each day. Each meal has three to five customizable options.

The trucks are equipped with appliances like panini presses, air fryers and microwaves. A digital menu board hangs on the front, listing daily food options. Soldiers place their order on a touch screen below the menu board, where the order can be customized.

Menus for the food trucks are developed by the JCCOE and can be adapted to the local base’s preferences, said Patricia Scott, the chief of DLA Troop Support’s Customer Operations Garrison Feeding Division. Food for the day’s menu is picked up at the dining facility each morning before the food truck heads to its location to start meal preparation, she said.

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