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thedrifter
01-31-06, 12:54 PM
Corps chow halls move to grab fast-food crowd

By Gidget Fuentes
Times staff writer

CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. - Marines on the run will get their pick of food on the go, without having to fork over extra bucks for fast-food fare at the nearest McDonald's.

Officials here are putting to the test several alternatives to the sit-down meals that the Marine Corps' dining facilities provide. They also want to lure back Marines who are bypassing chow halls for their meals and instead eating at an increasing number of on-base fast-food joints like Burger King, Taco Bell and Subway.

Several chow halls at Camp Pendleton are experimenting with mealtime take-outs such as pizza, hot wings, ready-made salads and design-your-own sandwiches.

Consider them, meals ready to run.

So far, they're a hit, as more diners are stepping into the chow halls that offer takeout, food service officials said.

The chow hall at Camp Del Mar, for example, recently expanded its hours for the "grab-and-go" option, now available from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. The camp is home to I Marine Expeditionary Force headquarters, 3rd Assault Amphibian Battalion and Assault Amphibian School.

"We're doing 1,000 a week" in grab-and-go meals there, said Septon Bandoo, district manager for Sodexho, a global food services company that's contracted to provide dining services for the Corps' bases.

The popularity of fast food, as well as brand names, isn't lost on food service officials.

Too often, Bandoo said, he'd notice many discarded pizza delivery boxes in trash cans and Dumpsters, showing that Marines weren't eating their meals in the chow hall. Why not, he thought, provide similar foods in the mess halls so Marines can still find fast food they like to eat?

Two chow halls offering the carry-out pizza - in the 22 Area near the air station and at San Mateo - are serving 100 to 200 more meals, about a 50 percent increase, Bandoo said.

"The whole purpose is convenience," he said.

Carry-out foods give Marines more options with nutritious choices, and it won't cost them any more money, said Maj. Carlos Sanabria, food service director for Camp Pendleton and Marine Corps Installations-West.

"You can come in and you grab an individual pizza and take some hot wings or a salad, pick up some bread sticks, maybe a dessert, get a drink and you're off on the road again," Sanabria said, adding, "It's a healthy option."

Carry-out foods, where provided, are available for meal card holders, whose cost of the takeout meal would be covered by their commuted rations. For leathernecks who are drive-through regulars or who don't have time to dine in, the "grab-and-go" initiatives could mean big savings for them, officials say. They wouldn't have to fork over $5 or $7 or more at a drive-up eatery to get their favorite fast food or a quick healthful meal.

It boils down to good value, said Master Gunnery Sgt. Manny Oquedo, food technician for the region's food service.

"For $3.55, you're not going to go anywhere else in town where you can get a sub, Gatorade and a piece of fruit" for the same money, said Oquedo, a 23-year veteran, noting what it costs roughly for each meal in the chow hall. "You can't compete."

Consider this: Grabbing a fast-food meal five times a week could add up to $20 to $30 or more by week's end, all out-of-pocket costs.

But Marines don't have to pay extra for that. "They rate that meal. They're entitled to that meal," Oquedo said.

Among the ideas that food officials at Camp Pendleton are testing is one they call "Sub Marines." Similar to the popular Subway sandwich food chain, it opens around 11 a.m. and closes at midnight. Another popular food offering is a hot dog stand at the Camp Horno chow hall.

The local initiatives are still being tested but might turn into permanent offerings, Sanabria said.

John Cavadias, a regional contracting officer who oversees the Sodexho contract, said he expects the carry-out option to give the local fast-food restaurants, contracted by Marine Corps Community Services, a run for their money.

"If quality increases as a result of competition, that's a good thing," Cavadias said. "Sodexho could make more money, and we're delivering quality to the Marines and sailors."

Osotogary
01-31-06, 01:48 PM
$3.55 for a sub, Gatorade and a piece of fruit? That's almost worth the $400 or so plane flight from South Florida to Camp Pendleton. LOL
Seriously, $3.55 is more than reasonable...it's terrific. Meals ready to run looks and sounds like a workable option for those in a hurry.

july541
11-28-17, 11:20 PM
$3.55 for a sub, Gatorade and a piece of fruit? That's almost worth the $400 or so plane flight from South Florida to Camp Pendleton. LOL
Seriously, $3.55 is more than reasonable...it's terrific. Meals ready to run looks and sounds like a workable option for those in a hurry.
Agree with you :)

m14ed
11-29-17, 03:17 AM
FNG's
never check the post date
before replys

great place to plant a
FACEPALM

Mongoose
11-29-17, 07:54 AM
Ed.....you are so understanding and compassionate ......

m14ed
11-30-17, 04:09 AM
$4it Marine,
11 years ago,
gasoline was $.50 a gallon !!!