‘Warrior Restaurants?' How the Army hopes to boost DFAC usage


Category:  News & Politics

Via:  1stwarrior  •  4 weeks ago  •  20 comments

‘Warrior Restaurants?' How the Army hopes to boost DFAC usage

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T

Base cafeterias will always be “chow halls” for many, while others call them DFACs. But the Army is trying to add a new term to the lexicon: warrior restaurant.

In an effort to change how and what soldiers eat, the service has begun rebranding its dining facilities, modernizing them and upgrading their offerings to prioritize fresh or frozen ingredients over heavily processed foods.

“Warrior restaurant” is the preferred nomenclature, Sgt. Maj. Ken Fauska of the Army’s Joint Culinary Center of Excellence said in a statement in January. Use of the term has been percolating on social media, mostly through the facilities’ official accounts and by Army leaders promoting them.

“I miss just calling it a DFAC,” Command Sgt. Maj. Jason Towns said in a recent tweet. “It’s still a challenge to remember to call it a Warrior Restaurant.”

The dining facility overhaul comes as the Army looks to combat obesity and boost soldier fitness, and after Army and Air Force officials began exploring a university campus-style dining plan that would let soldiers use meal cards outside DFACs, at places where they’ve been paying out of pocket.

To lure customers, some DFACs have begun experimenting with more meatless meals, some of which were offered last week to troops at Fort Hood, Texas, during a “Taste Fest” at the Always Ready Warrior Restaurant.

After a four-day training event with a Florida-based chef, Fort Hood culinary specialists served up samples of vegan breakfast burritos with scrambled tofu, vegan spelt pancakes topped with fresh berries, stuffed avocados with quinoa salad, and pan-seared teriyaki tofu steak with couscous and grilled asparagus.

To promote healthier eating, facilities are also placing salad bars more prominently, deep-sixing deep fat fryers and switching to air frying ovens.

On social media, chow halls boast about meals with more whole grains, lean meats, fruits and vegetables — sometimes pitting them against fast food joints or other competitors.

“Don’t waste your money at Burger King ... hmmmm!” said a recent 3rd Infantry Division Food Service post on Facebook with photos of fruits, vegetables and what looked like baked fish filet.

DFAC meals are subsidized through food allowances, which let soldiers who live in the barracks use meal cards to pay for breakfast, lunch and dinner. But many soldiers fail to use about half that entitlement.

That means each soldier leaves about $170 a month “on the table,” partly because of difficulty getting to DFACs at meal times for various reasons, Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, said during a committee hearing last year.

There is a “lack of participation in large volumes in the chow halls,” former Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy told lawmakers at the hearing.

Soldiers know about them, but “the million-dollar question” is how to get them eating there, said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Michael Barnes, a food service adviser at Fort Polk, La.

While some DFACs have been stressing their value and menu variety, bases are also launching food trucks, in-barracks kiosks and late-night or extended meal times to better serve the troops.

Sgt. Maj. of the Army Michael Grinston touted the “transition to the warrior restaurant” at the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual meeting and expo in October, saying the mess hall makeover aims to create “someplace you’d be proud to eat with your squad.”

They’re adding ID card scanners to cut down on wait times, starting to allow credit card payments and working to improve the food quality.

Installations are partnering with chefs off-base to improve kitchen staff mentorship and training. The service has recruited Food Network chef Robert Irvine, a fixture at holiday USO shows downrange in recent years, to help find ways to attract younger troops to the DFACs.

“If you give soldiers what they want, they will eat there,” Irvine said in August.

But will anyone really call them by the new name, especially without a catchy military acronym? Last weekend, U.S. Army WTF Moments posted a variation of the “woman yelling at cat” meme depicting the renaming struggle.

“Warrior Restaurant? WTF!” retired Army Brig. Gen. Bill Shea wrote in response. “It’s a Chow Hall!”


jrDiscussion - desc
Professor Expert
1  seeder  1stwarrior    4 weeks ago

Wait a minnute - WAIT a minnute - WAIT A MINNUTE - Annies Pantry is gonna get shut down. Bologna burgers are being taken away?  SPAM, in all its varieties, is off'n tha menu?

vegan breakfast burritos with scrambled tofu, vegan spelt pancakes topped with fresh berries, stuffed avocados with quinoa salad, and pan-seared teriyaki tofu steak with couscous and grilled asparagus - have they even tried tasting that crap???  That'll give your hemorrhoids tap dance fever like you've never had before. 

TOFU STEAK - jjjeeeezzzzzz - why not just place a plate of grilled tire in front of me?

They've lost it folks - seriously lost it.

Professor Expert
1.1  FLYNAVY1  replied to  1stwarrior @1    4 weeks ago

I always remember the chow halls filling up in the days just before payday.  That and guys donating blood for $25.00 a unit and then going out drinking to "hydrate themselves".

I'm with you 1st.  I want to recognize my food.  The last thing you want when you're strapped to a Douglas Escapac is the galloping trots in that start in hour 2 of what is going to be a 8 hour patrol.  Hell, our squadron requisitioned Preparation-H by the case.  I can't imagine how bad the hemorrhoids' were for the fighter jocks.

Professor Expert
1.1.1  seeder  1stwarrior  replied to  FLYNAVY1 @1.1    4 weeks ago

In 'Nam, I can 'member filling our mess kits with SOS before we went out in the field 'cause we never knew, fer shure, what/where our next meal was gonna be.  We would scheme to find ways to get our patrols to end/meander close to the AF chow hall in Da Nang to get something decent - and, oh yeah, to see them "round-eye'd Susans".

Masters Quiet
1.2  Ed-NavDoc  replied to  1stwarrior @1    4 weeks ago

Agree 100%! A chow hall always has been and always will be a chow hall. Or in the the case of a old salty Navy squid like me, a "galley". Same thing different service. I guess this also means the end of SOS (S*#t on a shingle)  i.e.  creamed chipped beef on toast. Who can forget working the night shift and going in for midrats or midnight rations and wondering (and sometimes shuddering)what classic delights the night cooks would have? I remember being on board ship and having sludge and sliders for breakfast. The sludge was the thick strong industrial strength coffee the Navy is famous for and the sliders were the greasy eggs and bacon that slid right off the metal serving trays when the ship took a roll in rough seas to either side. I loved being at sea!

Paula Bartholomew
PhD Guide
1.2.1  Paula Bartholomew  replied to  Ed-NavDoc @1.2    4 weeks ago

I always used the term Mess Hall, the emphasis being on "mess".  The only meal that was okay in most of them was breakfast.  Not even the Army could mess up corn flakes.

Masters Quiet
1.2.2  Ed-NavDoc  replied to  Paula Bartholomew @1.2.1    4 weeks ago

During my 20 years (1973 to 1993) the service that always seemed to have the best dining facilities was the Air Force for  service, quality, and ambience. 

Professor Expert
1.2.3  seeder  1stwarrior  replied to  Ed-NavDoc @1.2    4 weeks ago

We used to see if the Repose or her sister Hope were on our flight list off of Cau Viet when we were on our flight carriers - the Iwo or Princeton.

Paula Bartholomew
PhD Guide
1.2.4  Paula Bartholomew  replied to  Ed-NavDoc @1.2.2    4 weeks ago

I was lucky enough to be duty once at Camp Pendleton during the USMC birthday celebration.  The dinner meal consisted of Maine Lobster, shrimp cocktail, and 2 in thick steaks and you could go back for seconds if you wished.

Professor Expert
1.2.5  FLYNAVY1  replied to  Ed-NavDoc @1.2    3 weeks ago

I wonder if "green eggs and ham" came about from someone observing the reaction of powdered eggs to the steam tables in mess decks throughout the fleet? 

Oh.... and that famous mid-rats macaroni salad....     

Senior Guide
1.2.6  Drakkonis  replied to  Paula Bartholomew @1.2.1    3 weeks ago

Mess Hall for me, too. Breakfast was always pretty good. Hard to screw that up. Never once in my 20 years did I manage to make a Mess Hall hamburger taste like an actual hamburger, no matter how much stuff you put on it. 

Greg Jones
Masters Participates
2  Greg Jones    4 weeks ago

Real warriors eat meat....and lots of carbs. When I was in, (56-60), I don't remember paying for it.

I fondly those long days on KP, and plates full of that old time favorite....SOS

PhD Principal
2.1  devangelical  replied to  Greg Jones @2    4 weeks ago


PhD Guide
3  Freefaller    4 weeks ago

I remember when we'd come in from the boonies in Afghanistan we had basically 4 messes we could eat at

1.  British was just terrible and to be avoided

2.  US was mostly bad unless you just wanted burgers and fries, those were good

3.  Canadian was middlin, decent selection and taste

4.  But if you could get to the Japanese mess out by the airfield you did, great selection and amazing taste

Of course if you didn't mind waiting in a lineup for 3 days (I may be exaggerating) there was always TGI Fridays out on the boardwalk

Masters Quiet
3.1  Ed-NavDoc  replied to  Freefaller @3    4 weeks ago

When our ship, the USS Okinawa pulled into Subic Bay for a port call our USMC UH-1 Huey pilots always found excuses to fly up to Clark AFB for some reason or another and stay overnight and they would take me along. Otherwise, the Top 5 Club at Cubi Point was pretty decent.

Professor Expert
3.1.1  seeder  1stwarrior  replied to  Ed-NavDoc @3.1    4 weeks ago

You were on the Iwo?  Did they still have any of the HMM-362 Ugly Angels decals painted everywhere?  I think we deplaned from the Iwo in Aug/Sep '68 - or, that may have been the Princeton.

Masters Quiet
3.1.2  Ed-NavDoc  replied to  1stwarrior @3.1.1    4 weeks ago

Nope, I was on the Okinawa LPH-3.

Professor Quiet
3.1.3  TTGA  replied to  Ed-NavDoc @3.1.2    4 weeks ago

Ed, if it was after 1970, we probably steamed pretty close together at one time.  I was on the Cayuga LST 1186 after 70.  Before that on the Thomaston LSD 28.  Same with being close to the Iwo.  Oh yeah, the reason they wanted to get up to Clark rather than stay in Subic was better booze at cheaper prices.

Professor Expert
3.1.4  seeder  1stwarrior  replied to  Ed-NavDoc @3.1.2    4 weeks ago

Be damn nice if I could learn how to read . . . .duh, duh, duh :-)

Professor Expert
3.1.5  FLYNAVY1  replied to  TTGA @3.1.3    3 weeks ago

Po-city..... the number of brain cells killed there is unimaginable.  The number of cases of clap contracted there is equally unimaginable.  I wonder if there is a connection?

Masters Quiet
3.1.6  Ed-NavDoc  replied to  TTGA @3.1.3    3 weeks ago

I was on the Okinawa twice. First time was in 1974 and the second time was in 1981. Ironically, of the ships I was on, the hull numbers were all #3. Okinawa was LPH-3. The other was the USS Belleau Wood which was LHA-3. Those were the follow on class that replaced the LPH's.😁


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