Morale: USN Messes With the Chow


December28, 2006: The U.S. Navy is sailing into dangerous waters. It's making major changes to the kind of food it serves on its ships. The main reason is to make the chow less fattening. The navy is reducing its personnel roster, and, as part of that, it's being stricter with physical fitness rules. This includes weight standards. The new food system is expected to make it more difficult for a sailor to overeat, and get into trouble with their weight. So there is now less fried food, and more vegetables. There are more Asian dishes, like stir fry, which are traditionally filling, but with fewer calories than typical American dishes.

The navy is using the opportunity to simplify its food service as well, and make it more efficient. Thus the number of food items is being reduced from 1,200 to 500, and the menu will repeat every 21 days, instead of every 35 days. The new systems makes it easier, and cheaper, to keep ships supplied with food. The navy seeks feedback from sailors via a website, and modifies the new menus based on that. It was sailor requests for more, less fattening, food that played a role in the decision to roll out the new menus. Several dozen ships are already using the new system, but it will be a year before all the hundred or so surface warships in the fleet have switched over. Food has traditionally been a major morale builder on ship, but with Internet access, video games and female sailors, food isn't as important as it used to be.


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