Fort Bliss dining facility tests recipes for Go for Green

A Soldier prepares his salad at the Sgt. 1st Class Charles M. Bamford Dining Facility here Oct. 10. Photo by Jonathan LeBlanc, Fort Bliss Bugle Staff.

A Soldier prepares his salad at the Sgt. 1st Class Charles M. Bamford Dining Facility here Oct. 10. Photo by Jonathan LeBlanc, Fort Bliss Bugle Staff.

By Jonathan LeBlanc, Fort Bliss Bugle Staff:

(El Paso, Texas Nov. 2, 2017)

Members of the Fort Bliss community who want to have an impact on the future of healthy food in the Army should make a point of eating at the Sgt. 1st Class Charles M. Bamford Dining Facility, located in Bldg. 906 on Pleasonton Road.

The facility is one of only a few in the Army where cooks are testing new recipes for the Go for Green initiative, said Cardelion Deese, a supervisory quality assurance specialist with the 407th Army Field Support Brigade Logistics Readiness Center here. Other test facilities are at Fort Sill, Okla., and Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.

Go for Green is a program Army personnel started in 2010 to help Soldiers and other Army dining facility guests make better food choices. The color-coded system rates food as green, yellow or red to indicate the degree of healthiness. Green is the best; yellow is moderate; and red indicates low nutritional quality.

The Army revamped the program in 2012, Deese said, and since then, updates have been ongoing, with personnel adding new recipes and improving old ones. Bamford’s status as a test facility kicked off Oct. 10.

Although all installations have the Go for Green program – the Army has only incorporated Go for Green 2.0 at fewer than a handful of installations – and Fort Bliss is one where personnel have really pushed for success.

One of the factors involved with getting the program to be a success is cook and staff education, and Capt. Michelle Stone, senior leader sustainment dietitian at William Beaumont Army Medical Center, has been instrumental in making that happen.

Stone said most of the staff have received a six-hour course on healthier ways of preparing food, so cooks do not add fats or butter to dishes.

“By doing this we can eliminate hidden calories that previous recipes had in them,” Stone said.

Stone and her team are reanalyzing foods at the recipe level to create a much healthier choice.

“Even our meats that are being served, we are using 90 percent lean ground beef now as opposed to the 80 or 85 percent used prior,” Stone said. “It is important that the Soldiers are getting a healthier, more pure product.”

For Soldiers concerned about the flavor of their food, Stone said the facility has not received any complaints.

Cooks use the Go for Green recipes, update them, and if patrons like them, they update them in the system, Deese said.

“We’re trying to educate Soldiers about what’s available to them,” Deese said. “We want to add more recipes to the catalogue.”

Deese said facility officials judge the popularity of dishes by how many people choose them, but the Interactive Customer Evaluation, or ICE, system is available for people to make comments, and the facility manager walks around and talks to people about how they like their food.

In addition, some product vendors do demos at the facility, and they have comment cards available.

Deese said dining facility patrons should be aware that less healthier foods are still available, but the program aims to make patrons more aware of the choices they make.

Most of the recipes tested at the Bamford dining facility have omitted butter and oils and lowered sodium and sugar levels, Deese said.

“We’re constantly working and updating recipes,” Deese said.