Fort Bliss food program assessment enhances food services

Photo By Sgt. Jason Greaves | The Army Food Program Assessment Team provides an out-brief of their findings for their visit to Fort Bliss, Texas, March 21, 2024. The 1st Armored Division and Fort Bliss hosted the team to assess and enhance food services across the installation. The visit was part of a mission to map the entire food ecosystem across every active Army installation while gaining insights from Soldiers.

FORT BLISS, TX, UNITED STATES

03.21.2024

Story by Sgt. Jason Greaves 

1st Armored Division  

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FORT BLISS, Texas – 1st Armored Division hosted the Army Food Program Assessment Team at Fort Bliss from March 19 to 21 to assess and enhance food services across the installation.

The visit was part of a mission to map the entire food ecosystem across every active Army installation while gaining insights from Soldiers.

The team aims to identify all available food services at each location. This comprehensive mapping effort includes dining areas and services provided by the Army Air Force Exchange Services, Defense Commissary Agency or DeCA, food trucks, kiosks, and Morale Welfare and Recreation facilities.

“The purpose of our visit is to look at all the installations to determine and ensure an accurate view of the services offered at each installation,” stated Dennis Bryant, Army Food Innovation and Transformation Division, G4, Army Materiel Command.

Throughout the visit, the assessment team engaged directly with Soldiers, gathering feedback on their dining experience through surveys and personal interactions to learn about what Soldiers felt would assist them. This Soldier-centric approach ensures that food services align with the troops’ needs and preferences.

“We’re looking at the installation food ecosystem and increasing access for Soldiers. Included in the assessment is how Soldiers get to those locations, hours of locations, and what kind of food is desired by today’s Soldier,” said Bryant.

He emphasized their goal is to provide insights to the Army’s senior leadership to enable informed decisions related to infrastructure investments and facility improvements, ultimately enhancing food service for Soldiers.

Soldiers and leaders from various units across the installation had the opportunity to meet with the Army Food Program Assessment Team. During these sessions, they expressed their concerns about the current food environment at Fort Bliss and discussed recommendations for improving access to nutritious meals that align with their busy work schedules.

“I’m glad I could be here, representing those of us on the other side of the bridge. It felt like they were truly listening,” shared Pfc. Dakota Jones from the 4th Battalion, 1st Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team.

Jones lives on Far East Bliss, where food options are more limited than other parts of the installation. She anticipates positive changes resulting from future modifications, hoping they will streamline the process of acquiring nutritious food, especially during peak workloads.

Fort Bliss has a variety of dining options available for meal card holders, from traditional dining facilities to newer innovative options. There are five Warrior Restaurants spread throughout the installation.

1. Bamford Warrior Restaurant, West Fort Bliss
2. Bulldog Warrior Restaurant, East Fort Bliss
3. Muleskinner Warrior Restaurant, Far East Fort Bliss
4. McGregor Warrior Restaurant, McGregor Training Area
5. Strike Hard Cafe (Warrior Restaurant), East Bliss, which will re-open in April

Soldiers are welcome to use any of the dining options, not just the ones in their respective footprints. However, based on hours, locations, and unit mission requirements, it’s not always feasible for Soldiers to get all their meals from these facilities. That’s why the installation invested in additional food service options.

The Bulldog Warrior Restaurant actively participates in a meal preparation program, allowing Soldiers to collect three pre-prepared meals during breakfast and lunch hours. This initiative offers viable choices for nutritious sustenance, especially when time constraints may impede regular meal acquisition. Plans are underway to extend this program to the Muleskinner Warrior Restaurant.

Within the Combat Aviation Brigade footprint, there is a Culinary Outpost Kiosk, which offers Soldiers a grab-and-go dining option. The program sources its food offerings from DeCa, making it convenient for Soldiers to grab a quick meal like salads, sandwiches, and beverages.

Additionally, within the 11th Air Defense Artillery Brigade’s footprint, a Mobile Culinary Outpost Food Truck serves made-to-order food during breakfast and lunch hours. Food items include breakfast sandwiches, quesadillas, burritos, and other quick-order foods.

The assessment team visited each location to see how they operated and solicit Soldier feedback. Before departing, they provided valuable insights for the 1st Armored Division and Fort Bliss Food Services Team.

“This visit has been an eye-opener, revealing just how much work we still have to do to communicate all our food choices across our formations,” expressed Sgt. Maj. Lizbeth Coronado, chief culinary management sergeant major of 1st AD. “An example of this is our meal prep program at the Bulldog Warrior Restaurant. Although it has been very successful, many customers outside the Bulldog footprint were largely unaware that this option exists.”

Coronado highlighted that they will use the feedback to improve current menus, develop new ones, and educate Soldiers about the available meal options.

“Our goal is to develop a strategic and deliberate marketing campaign,” she added. “We need to address the gaps and spaces identified during the assessment, starting with Soldiers’ arrival at the Reception Center and extending to the Soldier Support Center and social media. We must improve our marketing and communication efforts across all areas to ensure that every Soldier is aware of the dining choices available to them.”

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