FORT POLK, LA, UNITED STATES
Story by Maj. Andrea Kelly
FORT POLK, La. (Sept. 2, 2020) – In the aftermath of Hurricane Laura, culinary specialists and select Soldiers from 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division worked tirelessly to ensure Soldiers and Army Families received hot meals.
Power outages across the installation closed the Patriot Inn dining facility building. This interruption posed no obstacle for the Patriot brigade. Within 24 hours, Soldiers set up two containerized kitchens to begin serving meals.
“Everyone jumped into action immediately after the storm to get what the restaurant staff began calling ‘Operation Feed the People’ going,” said Master Sgt. Julia A. Hales, the brigade culinary management noncommissioned officer in charge.
A single CK is a fully functional kitchen equipped with onboard power generation, refrigerated storage and hot and cold running water. It also provides the option to roast, grill, boil, fry and bake. These components provide cook’s the equipment necessary to provide over 800 meals to patrons daily.
“As families walked through the kitchen to receive meals, the gratitude shown to our Soldiers warmed my heart,” said Hales. “This experience has truly brought us together as a team as many of us have never experienced the impacts of a hurricane.”
Hurricane Laura left Army families on and off the installation without the ability to enjoy freshly prepared and cooked meals. Command Sgt. Maj. Kenneth R. Franco, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, recognized the need to authorize also feeding Army Families in addition to single Soldiers living in the barracks.
Over 2,900 meals have been served to Soldiers, Army Families and civilians since the establishment of the kitchens.
“With the impact of the hurricane being category four, we currently fall into a hurricane relief status which allows us to feed families in addition to the Soldiers,” Franco explained. “I have seen many families and their children cycling through during meal hours. Not having to worry about cooking a meal when you do not have power has been a very significant help.”
Although power is being restored across sections of the installation, the Patriot Inn will continue feeding Soldiers, Army Families, and Civilians at no charge until Sept. 7.