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NEWS | March 10, 2022

Nutrition care specialists establish, operate containerized kitchen

By 1st Lt. Harrison Gold 807th Medical Command (Deployment Support)

Nutrition care specialists and Soldiers from the 394th Field Hospital in Seagoville, Texas kept their skills sharp by setting up, operating, and breaking down a containerized kitchen (CK) during a monthly battle assembly. This task is required of the nutrition care team regularly to maintain proficiency.

It’s no secret that good food keeps Soldiers’ morale high to ensure they remain effective no matter what the mission calls for, in any environment. To enhance this, instead of soldiers in deployed environments eating packaged meals-ready-to-eat (MRE’s), the containerized kitchen can be deployed. The CK is a towable trailer that is a fully capable kitchen which can serve hot and fresh food to about 500 to 1,000 soldiers three times a day.

Not only does the CK have the soldiers to attend, but also, patients. The 394th Field Hospital is a medical unit, so the CK and it’s soldiers prepare food for the ill and injured under the care of the field hospital in addition to the Soldiers. With a dual-requirement kitchen comes specialized staff, and that’s where Spc. Zachery Richerson of the 394th Field Hospital comes in.

"We are actually mainly here for the patients," said Spc. Richerson, a nutrition care specialist. "I originally wanted to be a cook in the Army, but I was given an opportunity to be a 68M [nutrition care specialist],” he said with a smile.

Richerson elaborates: “You have your standard cooks in the Army for the soldiers, the G.I. meals, and for us, we cook healthy foods and we help the injured to help them heal from their injuries.” He clarified: “we cater different foods to different types of casualties.”

When asked about serving lunch today, Richerson said “We’re required to set up the CK once quarterly to maintain our skills, and we decided to go above and beyond and maintain proficiency, by cooking meals for our Soldiers here.”

“Hungry Soldiers aren’t happy Soldiers,” said Master Sgt. Darryl Williams, Spc. Richerson’s noncommissioned officer. "We are a small team, but happy Soldiers help with mission success, and we do what we can to help the unit be successful."

After each meal is finished and cleaned up, Master Sgt. Williams, Richerson and their team leave satisfied and with a smile. It is readily apparent that they take immense pride in their work, and they truly care about the Soldiers they serve.