Derrick CantyRHM 303Army Food Service Managers The Army Food Service Program is responsible for serving over a million meals per day in military dining facilities and on the frontlines of the battlefield. As an important member of this team, the Food Service Manager oversees the operation to ensure that every soldier has a hearty nutritional meal. Also the Manager has the training and knowledge to supervise and make timely decisions.
Like their civilian counterparts, the military food service manager has numerous duties and responsibilities. Ever since the U.S. Army drew its first ???line in the sand??? in the days of the American Revolution, commanders have been responsible for providing their soldiers with quality subsistence in a variety of environments and tactical situations. From establishing the first formal food military program in 1775 by the Continental Congress to a ration breakdown point in Desert Storm, the Army Food Service Program has undergone drastic modifications in an ongoing attempt to adapt to the soldiers needs.
Early in our military, the basic ration included a pound of beef, ? lb of pork, or one pound of salty fish; a pound of bread or flour; a pint of milk, a quart of cider or spruce beer, and three pints of peas or beans per man per week. Salt was critical during this time because of no means of refrigeration available to the soldiers of this era. After war in Vietnam, during the 1970s the Army introduced the mobile kitchen trailers and in the 1980s the emergence of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs) and Tray Rations (T-Rations) as standard rations for soldiers in the field. The improvements in both rations have continued and include larger portion sizes, increased variety of meals and better preparation methods. The manager position in today??™s Army has the responsibility to take lessons from history and provide the very best food service support to soldiers both in garrison and on the modern battlefield of tomorrow.
Our Food Service Program has come a long way since those times in availability of products and administration systems. In the old Army, a large number of products were generic and the administration duties were performed manually. Over the past ten years or so the Army has come to the forefront with the brand name products that are purchased in your local grocery store. The facilities bring diners to their doors with variety, menu choices, service, and food served by a customer-oriented staff. Managers are trained to have the comprehensive knowledge of managing the facility on a daily basis.
They have numerous daily duties ranging from menu planning; purchasing, quality assurance and control, ensuring the nutritional guidelines are met for each product served to customers. Also they must possess the knowledge of safety and security, set work schedules, accountability, training staff, and customer and personal service. In most military facilities the manager has one or more assistants depending on the size of the facility, the staff can range from 10 to 200 personnel. One of the most important tasks of food service managers is selecting successful menu items, estimate how much food and beverage will be used, place orders with suppliers, and check deliveries of fresh food and baked goods for quantity and quality. Managers also meet with sales representatives from restaurant supplier to place orders replenishing stocks of tableware, linens, paper products, cleaning supplies, cooking utensils, and furniture and fixtures. They also arrange for equipment maintenance and repairs, and coordinate a variety of services such as waste removal and pest control. In addition to these duties, the manager must keep accurate records of the dining facility account to ensure that they stay within the military tolerance of plus or minus three percent per month and at zero or under spent at the end of fiscal year.
They??™re responsible for total receipts and balance against sales, deposit of funds, and monitor current inventory. Managers monitor the actions of their staff to ensure that safety standards are being practiced daily. They??™re overall responsible for training of all personnel to include civilians. These managers attend an 11week-training course, which covers areas in food service operations, nutritional meal planning, administration, leadership skills, presentation, speech, writing evaluation, Serve-Safe program, contracting, and Army Field Feeding, and the Army Food Management Information System (AFMIS). Dieticians, public health and safety personnel, fire marshals, contractors, and security officers are training the managers to become more proficient in their daily operations. In order for military managers to stay abreast with the civilian counterparts, they take civilian educational classes in Hospitality and Restaurant industry thru various colleges and universities either on post in a classroom setting or thru distant learning.
Personnel stationed overseas in places like Germany or Korea, some service members are granted permission to work in civilian restaurants to get work experience in the local community which is excellent training for them and bring that training back to the military so that it??™s known how the civilians do food service. In the garrison operation, the managers are the leaders to those soldiers who work for them because these people look to them for guidance and the knowledge to succeed in the food service arena, therefore today??™s managers know that they??™re an integral part of these soldiers??™ lives not only from his/her subordinates but superiors and civilian personnel in their community. While in garrison, the operation is very similar to an institutional feeding and restaurant type service. Many managers of these facilities work more conventional hours because of installation operating hours therefore the facilities normally serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Also in the garrison operation, managers have tons of information on how to operate the facility, stay keen with updates on food products, food safety, changes, and new regulations or standard operating procedures. They also get knowledge of installation vendor contracts and especially the catalogs established with the vendor for ordering products.
Managers must establish an on-the-job training program to improve the accuracy and efficacy of the subsistence receiving processes. Each person must be trained in receiving inspections processes, acceptance, and rejection procedures and proper document handling. The manager is the final authority on decisions to accept or reject any subsistence item at the dining facility. The importance of good account management can??™t be overstated.
It??™s a necessary and critical skill required by food operational professionals to achieve a balanced dining facility account. The ability to plan and provide quality meals that meet Army Menu Standards for diners, while achieving regulatory account management requirements, is the goal of all Army food operations professionals. Dining Facility account management is the active art of planning menus, balancing and incorporating available on-hand inventory, reviewing diner preferences, incorporating Army Menu standards, reviewing available subsistence products on the master item file, and meeting the needs of the organization. As Senior Food Operations Sergeants and Dining Facility managers, this is their goal and mission.
As managers of our dining facility food service budgets, we are charged with operating our accounts to ensure that we provide wholesome and nutritious meals to our diners, while still balancing the dining facility account. This is no easy accomplishment, however as food service professionals they are up for the task. The menu and recipes used by the managers come from the standard Armed Forces recipe service in which all branches of service use but the manager has the option to create menus from this service. Like stated before, the manager has standards that govern service and quality of food being served at the facility.
Standards make quality possible by defining required levels of performance and also define expectations in terms of what is to be done, how it is to be done, how well it is to be done, and how sure it gets done on a timely basis. When planning entree for these facilities, managers should strive for the highest possible quality in preparation and display. The managers should challenge themselves to prepare an output of the highest quality, and should be aware that achieving this goal will be an important consideration when diners see and consume products.
These menu patterns are developed in reference to the Army Regulation, Nutrition Allowances, Standards and Education. A reduced calorie menu is planned, using fitness patterns for: breakfast, lunch, and dinner. These reduced meals provide approximately 500 calories per meal not exceeding 1600 calories per day. The Army Food Management Information System (AFMIS) provides managers with all the management tools necessary for determining and programming meal-serving costs based on the types of menu products provided at each planned meal throughout the accounting period.
Along with running a dining facility, the manager has to ensure that his/her personnel are trained for the field environment too and this requires field feeding. An establishment of an appropriate feeding plan comes from the manager and the commander based on mission, enemy, terrain, troops available- time and contractors on the battlefield. There are two types of rations to be used in this situation: individual and group. Individual rations or meal ready to eat are quick and easy to distribute and have a variety of entrees from spaghetti to chicken breast. Group rations are meals that are prepared by submerging prepared entrees in hot water or adding hot water as required reconstituting the product.
Some field operations require field kitchens depending on the mission. Field kitchen operations are similar as garrison except for some modifications. Mobile kitchen tents or trailers can be towed or air lifted and can be set up in any location on a level surface. One trailer is designed to 300 personnel at one time. The manager??™s job is the same like in the facility ensuring safety because gas is being used to cook with and safety hazards are more addressed in the training areas.
Also during training the meal cycle is altered, so the soldiers would receive two hot meals a day, breakfast and dinner, and a meal-ready-to-eat for lunch. Managers and their personnel conduct battlefield training, which consists of weapons qualifications on individual and crew serve weapons and while continuing to produce nutritional meals for soldiers to survive on the battlefield. Food service is the morale backbone of a fighting force and a combat multiplier. Army Food service touches more soldiers on a daily basis than any other thing in the army and is crucial to the success of any unit. All military food service managers, advisors, and employees are familiar with the Food Management Assistance Teams or FMAT. These teams visit all active Army installations on a scheduled or requested basis.
The objective of this team is to review current food program operations at the installation level to ensure that the objectives of the Army Food Program are being achieved. They also work with the local food program managers to identify and record limitations that hinder achieving food program objectives, and provide lessons learned and feedback from real-time operations to the field. The team also helps local program managers resolve issues beyond the control of the program manager and give oral and written assessments; recommend improvements and solutions to problems in the food program management. Upon completion of each visit, a memorandum outlining observations and recommend corrective actions will be prepared and briefed to the command before the team??™s departure.
The purpose of the Transition assistance team is assist installation commanders in opening and operating newly constructed or modernized dining facilities. This team trains food service personnel in the concept of operation for a newly designed facility on the proper operation and maintenance of all food service equipment in the facility. Pre-acceptance teams also assist the installation commander by finding facility and equipment discrepancies, identifying problems, and providing solutions before the installation, the DPW (department of public works), and the user accept the responsibility for new or modernized dining facilities. This team also determines if design layouts and equipment meet Army construction standards and military specifications. Along with these assistance teams, there are a couple of special food service programs designed to improve the professionalism of food service personnel. The programs are: Philip A. Connelly Awards Program, Army Enlisted Aide, and the U.S.
Army Culinary Arts Competition. The International Food Service Executives Association and Department of the Army cosponsor the Connelly program for the past 38 years now. This program recognizes excellence in the preparation and serving of food in Army troop dining facilities and during field operations thus the best quality in food service to supported dining soldiers. The definitions of garrison categories are as followed: small garrison facility are dining facilities with a design of 400 or less while large garrison facilities are dining facilities with a design of 400 or more and the Field Kitchen Dining Facility. Competitors are evaluated during the preparation of breakfast and lunch meals. The Enlisted Aide program is one that provides training for selected food service personnel as an enlisted aide staff member for a general officer at the his assigned government quarters.
They learn duties and responsibilities of an enlisted aide, interpersonal skills, counter terrorism and communication security, administration, daily food operations, official social events and grounds maintenance. This program provides the groundwork for a challenging and rewarding career to the most skilled food service personnel; it??™s also technical skills oriented and focuses on determining the requirements and specific needs to correctly and completely manage a General officer??™s household. Another program is Culinary Arts program, which is sanctioned by the American Culinary Federation and is open to active duty members of all services, DOD civilians, and National Guard and Army Reserve personnel. The competition is held at Fort Lee Virginia every year and teams come from all over the world to compete at this level and type of food service. This program is designed to promote growth in the culinary profession with special attention to the tenets of modern culinary development and also to continually raise the standards of culinary excellence and professionalism in Army Food service training to the soldier. The medals received from the federation entries can be used towards chef certification and a possible position on the U.S.
National Military Culinary team to compete at the national and international competitions. In conclusion, the military food service manager has a lot deal with each and everyday therefore must stay updated with food service procedures both military and civilian. Our military is catching up with our competitors when it comes to providing the best quality of food service available to our service members.
The workload can heavy stressful at times, but with adequate training these managers are focus, willing, and striving for excellence to accomplish the mission and continue to march on. In the food service business, the military is only good as the last service member??™s last meal.Reference:Department of the Army Pamphlet 30-22: Army Field Feedingwww.careersinthemilitary.comwww.hospitalityguild.comwww.culinaryprograms.comwww.quartermaster.army.milwww.todaysmilitary.com