Magazine article Soldiers Magazine

Better Meals for Soldiers

Magazine article Soldiers Magazine

Better Meals for Soldiers

Article excerpt

A HOME-cooked meal probably wouldn't survive three years' storage in a hot, stifling warehouse or being dropped out of an airplane. Most assuredly it wouldn't be fit to eat.

But if it were a Meal, Ready-to-Eat, it would be as fresh and tasty as the day it was prepared.

The development and testing of Soldiers' meals is the mission of some 100 employees of the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Center's Department of Defense Combat Feeding Program, whose specialties include food science, engineering and packaging.

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Edible History

The MRE replaced the C-Ration in 1980. Up to 1987 the MRE contained such items as ham and chicken loaf, chicken a la king, and freeze-dried pork, beef and potato patties.

In 1988 eight of the original 12 entrees were replaced with more traditional favorites, including spaghetti with meat sauce.

The MRE was delivered to troops in operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. However, initial feedback wasn't positive.

In 1991 the Joint Services Operational Rations Forum was tasked to redesign the MRE.

NSC's objective was to dramatically improve the quality and variety of the MRE, by ensuring yearly enhancements would be made to the standard MRE.

NSC surveyed Soldiers to find out what food items they wanted in their MREs. Then MRE components were obtained from the commercial sector or developed at NSC. Prototype MREs were assembled and field-test sites and units were set up.

Two groups of Soldiers contributed to the field test. One group consumed the existing MRE, the other evaluated the new prototype menus and components. …

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