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Healthier food on the go now an option at Fort Bliss dining hall

Spc. Breauna Delpesche oversees the new Grab N Go section at the Area 1A Dining Facility at Fort Bliss. Here, she shows off one of the packaged combos that are available for busy soldiers and civilians.

DAVID BURGE/THE EL PASO TIMES (TRIBUNE NEWS SERVICE)

By DAVID BURGE | The El Paso Times (Tribune News Service) | Published: February 24, 2017

The dining facility run by the 1st Brigade Combat Team has opened a special area modeled after a fast-food restaurant that serves convenient food on the go.

The Area 1A Dining Facility, at 21214 Bayonet Ave. on East Bliss, opened a new Grab N Go section on Feb. 1.

Diners enter through a side door, so they avoid the lines in the main dining facility.

For breakfast and lunch, they have a choice of three already packaged options that are ready to be snatched up and taken by busy soldiers and civilians who want to get on with their day. Extras like fruit, juice and coffee are included.

The goal is to serve relatively healthy alternatives to fast food, said Warrant Officer 1 Rosa Villagran, the 1st Brigade’s food service technician.

The dining facility feeds soldiers from the 1st Brigade and from Division Artillery and is located between the two units' headquarters, but anyone who has access to the post can eat there.

Other dining facilities at Fort Bliss have the Grab N Go option, but what makes the one at this dining hall stand out is it has a separate menu with dedicated combinations that customers can order from quickly, said Villagran, from Riverside, Calif.

The whole idea is to make the dining facility more inviting and create a family-style atmosphere, she said.

“A lot of soldiers don’t have families here,” Villagran said. “We want this to be their home.”

Even though about a third of 1st Brigade is deployed in Afghanistan, this new Grab N Go initiative is an example that life still goes on at Fort Bliss and the brigade is continuing to function, said Sgt. 1st Class September Harris, who is the dining facility manager.

“This service is about the soldiers and bringing them back to the dining facility,” said Harris, from Boston. “We have listened to them on what they want and we want to provide that for them.”

The Grab N Go is a good fit for young enlisted soldiers who live in the barracks and who have meal cards with the dining facility, Villagran and Harris said. It allows them to save money instead of going to fast-food restaurants.

It is also convenient and can save time during a busy day, Harris added.

“Sometimes, soldiers only have 10 or 15 minutes to get something to eat,” Harris said. “This is a perfect option for them to go back and complete what they are doing.”

Spc. Breauna Delpesche is a culinary specialist who oversees the new Grab N Go area.

Delpesche, from Columbus, Ga., said they are planning to eventually have five prepackaged options for both breakfast and lunch and vary the menu with different featured items.

Young soldiers who live in the barracks often eat at fast-food restaurants, gain weight and can struggle to stay in shape, Delpesche said.

“This gives them some healthier options,” she said.

Staff Sgt. Allison Walker, from Decatur, Ill., is the administrative NCO for the dining facility.

Walker said the Grab N Go section is an “awesome” addition to the dining facility, especially with soldiers being able to go through a side entrance and avoid long lines.

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©2017 the El Paso Times (El Paso, Texas)
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