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Military publication Stars and Stripes reports that "five Army bases could soon have private companies instead of soldiers serving food in dining facilities through a new pilot program that aims to completely overhaul the way the service feeds troops in garrisons.

"The hope is to take an approach similar to college campuses and offer brands that have healthy options and are recognizable to young people, such as Panera Bread or Chick-fil-A."

The goal, according to Army Secretary Christine Wormuth is to "make our warrior restaurants more attractive and more accessible to our soldiers."

The story says that "companies can bid on the contract until May 2, according to the federal government’s award management website. The proposal lists future locations for the pilot program as Fort Drum, N.Y., Fort Carson, Colo., Fort Bragg, N.C., Fort Stewart, Ga., and Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.

"It asks companies to be responsible for renovating the dining facility to meet the company’s needs, use a sales system that allows soldiers to pay with their basic allowance for subsistence meal card, and offer food that meets the nutrition standards of the service. Hours of operation should go beyond what dining facility schedules maintain now to meet the needs of the community, according to the online request for business proposals."

KC's View:

It is instructive that the story seems to focus on national fast food and quick-service chains, as opposed to supermarkets.  And yet, there are some terrific food retailers operating in these areas.  Wegmans could handle Fort Drum and Fort Bragg, for example.  Harris Teeter could service Fort Stewart.   Metropolitan Market could serve Joint Base Lewis-McChord.  And if it were me, I'd turn to Tony's Meats and Market to serve Fort Carson.

My point is that supermarkets ought to make a play for this business, and that the government ought to recruit great food stores - which could offer far more extensive and healthy offerings - to serve the needs and desires of service personnel, who deserve better than fast food.