Navy Food Management Team Hosts Waterfront Roundtable

     Naval Supply Systems Command (NAVSUP) Fleet Logistics Center (FLC) San Diego’s Navy Food Management Team (NFMT) hosted an informative food service seminar for food service officers and leading Culinary Specialists this past September in San Diego.

     The seminar brought dozens of shipboard Sailors, command training staff, prime vendors and Navy Type Commands (TYCOMS) together to network and comes on the eve of a new Navy Standard Core Menu refresh, which rolled out Oct. 1.

     “These seminars give our waterfront senior food service personnel a chance to really come out and voice their questions and concerns about food service issues,” said CWO Eugene Chestnutt, lead analyst for the NFMT.  “Whether it’s talking to their actual food suppliers about dishes that could use some improvement or just touching base with the personnel supporting afloat requirements ashore and learning what goes into the process of getting the food into their hands, it’s a valuable educational experience.”

     The seminar also covered refresher training in areas like financial improvement, audit readiness compliance, sanitation, inventory procedures, record keeping and inspections.  The team also brought Army veterinarians assigned to Naval Base San Diego on board to offer their expertise and advice for keeping food at its freshest, at sea or ashore.

     “We’re an interesting team in that we support the warfighter in so many different ways,” CWO Chestnutt explained.  “We’re completely committed to bringing first class food service training to the Fleet.  But, we’re also sort of a vehicle to enable the TYCOMS to get together with their audience and gather some real feedback.”

     Comment cards are distributed to attendees at the event, soliciting opinions and input on issues regarding food quality, menu redundancy, and more.  The Sailors also rate the appearance, taste, quality and even smell of the various menu items in an effort to keep lines of communication flowing between the deckplates and supply chain decision makers.

     “It’s important for us to be able to be the bridge between the Sailors and the suppliers,” CWO Chestnutt said.  “If you’ve got the fleet complaining about a menu item they don’t like, you want to make sure you’re in touch with that.  When the TYCOMS are aware of those issues, they keep them in mind when discussing new menus with Naval Supply Systems Command.  It’s a very customer-centric process.”

     The NFMT was formed to enhance the skills of Culinary Specialists to provide better food service throughout the Navy’s general messes.  The NFMT is comprised of Sailors in culinary rates at pay grades at or above E-6, which ensures the trainers not only boast extraordinary culinary skills, but also have the firsthand experience of running their own food service operations at sea and ashore.

     In addition to its various seminars held year-round, the team also conducts shipboard assist visits for commands across the west coast every 18 months.  Such visits provide Culinary Specialists with both refresher and advanced training in their own galleys.  The training offered by the Navy’s food pros ensures those serving at the tip of the spear are receiving the home-style cooking and nutritious meals they need to keep them going.

     “Training enhances our Culinary Specialists’ abilities, so it’s important that we keep it going,” said CSC(SW) Raushaun Blue, a NFMT trainer and analyst.  “It’s really a positive cycle of improvement for everyone involved, and the food out on the mess decks keeps getting better.”

     “A lot of people don’t realize that plays a big role in maximizing our strength as a Navy,” he added.

By Candice Villarreal, NAVSUP Fleet Logistics Center San Diego Public Affairs