A complaint that soldiers have had to skip some meals at Camp Bucca in southern Iraq has prompted the commander to concede a change in food distribution may have had some “growing pains.”

But officials insist that everyone at the camp, a prison for detainees south of Basra, has been properly fed.

Sgt. Kristy Fleshman, 26, raised the issue in an e-mail to her father in Oklahoma, prompting a TV station to look into the matter.

“Hey Dad, I have an issue I think I need the family’s help on,” said Fleshman, with the 45th Brigade Combat Team of the Oklahoma Army National Guard. She said she and her fellow soldiers were working up to 10-hour shifts in the heat without food.

Her father, Howard Fleshman, told KOCO-TV, based in Oklahoma City, that he normally receives an e-mail from his daughter every weekend, so this one, which he received in the middle of last week, surprised him. “So I guess this was something that was important to her and she managed to get to a computer and let me know,” he told the TV station.

The TV station said it has received other e-mails about the food issue. U.S. Reps. Mary Fallin and Tom Cole, Oklahoma Republicans, said they would look into the matter.

A statement issued from Camp Bucca commander Bruce Derenski conceded that there had been “growing pains” in undertaking a new system of food delivery. The camp had been using Styrofoam containers that didn’t keep food warm. The food also was exposed to dirt, heat and flies during transportation, and much of it was being thrown out, the statement said.

The camp is switching to Mermite containers that preserve food better, Derenski said. Meanwhile, he said, Meals, Ready to Eat are being issued to anyone who is hungry, Styrofoam-packed meals are being used for a week as a transition, and people are reminded they can go through the chow line, eat, and go back through to get food in Styrofoam containers.

Maj. Matthew Morgan, a spokesman for Multi-National Forces-Iraq, said the changes were being made to improve the quality of people’s meal options.

Bucca’s dining facility is open around the clock; all battalions have MREs available on the compound; and meals are delivered during guard shifts and available afterward, he said in an e-mail.

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