Beginning today, Fort Hood will officially unveil its new food truck in front of III Corps Headquarters, an idea brought to life to modernize and improve the Army’s feeding capabilities.
“It’s cutting edge – probably well overdue,” Danny Boyd, Joint Culinary Center of Excellence food service system analyst, said. “It’s cutting edge because Soldiers are very mobile. The food truck is just an extended platform to get to where the Soldiers are, to allow them another means of sustenance.”
The Department of the Army created the Culinary Outpost, a mobile feeding platform designed to enhance dining facility operations for Soldiers working in isolated areas, where they do not have access to a traditional dining facility.
“We want to reach those Soldiers who are in remote areas, where they have to travel longer distances (for food),” Chief Warrant Officer 2 Andy Martinez, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade food advisor, said. “I’m working with III Corps to establish routes around Fort Hood, where we can better extend our garrison feeding capabilities.”
Depending on the popularity of the truck and the needs of Fort Hood, additional food trucks can be added in the future.
“The current analysis from the Army is that all locations will have food trucks based on the needs at the request of the installation. It’s a bottom-driven requirement,” Mark Warren, contractor with the Department of the Army G-4, said. “If, for example, 1st Cavalry Division or III Corps determine they have an additional requirement for food trucks, they can submit their request up through their regional rep, Mr. Boyd.”
Fort Hood is one of five installations who have received a food truck. The other installations include Fort Bragg, North Carolina; Fort Stewart, Georgia; Fort Drum, New York; and Fort Carson, Colorado. The food trucks were initially piloted at Fort Stewart and Fort Carson, with positive feedback. Boyd said they have a biweekly teleconference, with the installations providing feedback about their food truck.
“We encourage those folks who do have food trucks and those who are projected to have a food truck (to call in),” Boyd said. “There are a lot of lessons learned from those teleconferences for those who are projected to get a food truck.”
The state-of-the-art 22-foot truck has been completely customized and comes with a touchscreen ordering system. Boyd explained that a person can build their order via the touchscreen and customize it, with specific types of cheese, vegetables, etc. The extensive menu includes quick and easy sandwiches, salads and wraps, but also includes burgers and Tex-Mex options.
“The menu III Corps and Fort Hood selected is a Tex-Mex menu. It’s a hybrid,” Warren said. “We haven’t done that (menu) at any other locations.”
Fort Hood’s food truck customers can order barbacoa beef, pork and chicken carnitas, rice, beans, street tacos and burritos. Since Fort Hood is the first installation to receive that menu, they will be able to provide the Army feedback on whether or not it is acceptable. They also have an extensive breakfast menu, which includes a variety of breakfast sandwiches, grits and breakfast burritos.
Warren said the menu and recipes have been reviewed and approved by the Joint Culinary Center of Excellence dietician and nutritionist, to ensure they are providing healthy options. He explained that throughout the menu development and recipe development process, they tried to decrease bad fats and ingredients, to provide the best fueling capability for the troops. While the food truck is meant to enhance garrison feeding operations, Warren said it is not meant to take the place of a dining facility.
“The food truck does not replace a traditional dining facility, nor does it replace the nutritional varieties that the dining facility has,” he advised.
Soldiers with a meal card will receive the equivalent to what they would receive in a dining facility – one entrée, one side, one dessert and one beverage. All other customers pay in cash. Boyd said by the time their order is received, the wait time should be five to seven minutes.
Martinez said they eventually hope to market the food truck across social media, so Soldiers will know where the food truck will be on a specific day.
“To track the truck,” Martinez said. “We’re hoping to establish a ‘The food truck is live at this location,’ type of thing.”
The Culinary Outpost will begin serving lunch at 11 a.m. today in front of III Corps. Customer can expect to pay under $10 for a complete meal.
Beginning at 7 a.m., Monday, breakfast will be served at the Copeland Center, Bldg. 18010. Lunch will be served at 11 a.m., Monday and Tuesday at Hood Army Airfield. Additional dates and times will be announced at a later date.