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PYEONGTAEK, South Korea — Hungry nightshift workers at Camp Humphreys probably will have to wait until the base population gets bigger before any eateries are kept open overnight.

Officials of the Army and Air Force Exchange Service have decided not to keep any of its on-post eateries open late, saying there would be too few customers.

The night shift would have provided about 50 customers at eateries, said Ron Daugherty, AAFES general manager for central and southern South Korea.

But for a 90-day trial run AAFES will install three vending machines dispensing microwavable meals, Daugherty said. One machine will be in each of three buildings with night shift workers.

“We conducted reviews … and there’s just not enough customer base on the night shift right now to support an AAFES restaurant being opened,” Daugherty said. “But as the population of the camp grows, we’ll continue to monitor to see when maybe we can move out on a test basis” and run an eatery at night.

The U.S. military plans to convert Camp Humphreys into its premier installation in South Korea by 2008. The base will triple in size and its population grow to 45,000 from 11,000, USFK officials have said.

The post has more than a dozen commercial eating places, some under AAFES. But none are open past 10 p.m., making it tough for night shift workers — military police, medics, civilian contractors and others — to grab a bite.

The issue arose in August at a quarterly Area III town hall meeting at Camp Humphreys. A community member asked Area III Support Activity commander Michael J. Taliento Jr. whether food could be made available to night workers.

An AAFES official at the meeting responded that he first would try to learn how much customer demand there might be, then consider keeping an eatery open on a test basis. If there were too few customers the test would halted, he’d said.

The machines will be set up within the next 30 days and then monitored, Daugherty said Friday. “We usually gauge 90 days and sometimes we’ll extend it another 90 days,” Daugherty said. “So, 90 days to start. And then … if it wasn’t meeting the customers’ expectations or customers weren’t taking advantage of it, we would go back to Col. Taliento and say, ‘This is our results’ and request getting out of the test.”

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