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Kinnick High School math teacher Danel MacWhyte helps himself to the pasta bar at the Commodore Matthew C. Perry General Mess at Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan, on Tuesday. A new policy at Yokosuka will prohibit civilians from using the dining facility starting Saturday.
Kinnick High School math teacher Danel MacWhyte helps himself to the pasta bar at the Commodore Matthew C. Perry General Mess at Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan, on Tuesday. A new policy at Yokosuka will prohibit civilians from using the dining facility starting Saturday. (Jim Schulz / S&S)

YOKOSUKA NAVY BASE — Under a new base rule, civilians at Yokosuka will no longer be able to eat meals in the Commodore Matthew C. Perry General Mess.

The change will save money and allow more resources to go to the galley’s primary military customers, said base officials, but leaves civilians like Nile C. Kinnick High School teacher Danel MacWhyte with no place on base to find the same variety and amount of healthful fare.

“We wish the alternative could be that we just pay more,” MacWhyte said. “We can’t find any other healthy alternative to eat on base.”

Base Commander Capt. King Dietrich announced the policy earlier this month for the facility popularly called “Jewel of the East.” It goes into effect Saturday, but doesn’t include civilian base hospital workers eating in the hospital’s galley.

MacWhyte said he eats about five meals a week in the galley, located across the street from the high school. It’s near his work and home on base.

He and other civilians including Japanese Master Labor Contractors had been able to eat on base for a few dollars a meal, during limited hours.

The change is necessary, said Chief Warrant Officer Rey R. Jacinto, food service officer.

“The building was built only for military (use),” he said.

The dining room holds 140 patrons. On busy days, sailors line up to wait for a place to sit.

Fewer customers also means the staff of seven sailors and 37 Japanese employees can devote more time to better quality food, not just more of it, he said.

“Whether we feed the civilians or not, the staff is the same,” he said.

On an average day last month, civilians accounted for 159 of the 1,150 people served in the galley.

MacWhyte said he plans to go home to eat. Other eateries, he said, don’t offer the same selection of lean meats, fruit and vegetables.

He admits the galley is cheap but that isn’t the biggest attraction.

“There’s really no place on base that compares with the quality of food, not just the price.”

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